21
Jun

Building material imports: Queensland to probe national market … – The Australian Financial Review

Queensland’s building regulator has started a probe into the national marketplace and supply chain following growing concerns about non-compliant building materials.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni and the head of the state’s building industry watchdog will on Wednesday meet CSR managing director Rob Sindel to start the inquiry into the routes by which products that don’t meet Australian standards end up being used on construction sites.

“I’ve asked the Queensland Building and Construction Commission to commence an inquiry into the national market,” Mr De Brenni said.

Mr Sindel, who last month predicted a soft landing as the housing construction boom peaked, said the industry welcomed the probe.

“We are pleased to see the Queensland government leading this approach to ensure that building products comply with the relevant standards and codes, but more importantly, are fit for the purpose they are being used for on building sites,” he said.

Materials such as cladding may not comply with Australian building codes because they are either labelled incorrectly – one issue the QBCC probe will seek to investigate – or because builders or subcontractors incorrectly use a product in a role other than that for which it is suited.

Mr De Brenni did not say on Tuesday whether Queensland’s reforms would also seek to tighten weaknesses in the certification process that don’t pick up non-compliant materials.

Policy makers and regulators have been aware of the dangers of non-compliant materials in Australian buildings ever since Melbourne’s potentially fatal Lacrosse tower fire in November 2014, when the presence of non fire-resistant cladding caused flames to race up 13 levels of the 21-storey residential tower in as little as 10 minutes.

However, the disastrous Grenfell Tower fire in central London, in which cladding is suspected as a factor in the conflagration that has to date caused 79 deaths, has stoked a new sense of urgency among some state governments.

Mr De Brenni last week said the state had passed new laws in May giving the regulator the ability to go beyond state borders and scrutinise the national supply chain.

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