Last night’s ABC Four Corners report is a damning indictment of the state of the Australian construction industry and the complete and utter failure of the de-regulation and privatisation agenda that has been underway since the 1990s.
The program, along with the evidence received from over 160 submitters to the Senate inquiry into Non-conforming Building Products, detailed the widespread use of non-compliant, highly flammable aluminium composite panels in tens of thousands of Australian buildings.
Four Corners has exposed the failure of public accountability for public safety in the building industry, with no one taking responsibility for the systematic failure of the regulatory regime.
It has highlighted the certification fraud, product substitution and counterfeiting of products.
The most senior fire brigade officials in the country have highlighted the acute danger that so many Australians are facing.
The example for Grenfell Tower and Lacrosse fire are not isolated incidents and the suggestion that the regulation of our sprinkler systems is adequate is repudiated by the failure to enforce those regulations.
At the Senate inquiry’s hearing in July, the Australian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council testified that in an audit of 71 Brisbane hotels taken in preparation for the G20 summit, 68 failed.
In order to save a paltry $3 per square metre, some builders have been substituting fire-resistant products with cheaper imported combustible products, which have been linked to the 80 deaths in the Grenfell Tower fire.
The Lacrosse fire in 2014 – largely caused by these combustible panels, should have been a wakeup call. However, despite the serious impact on public safety, government leadership on this matter has been missing.
The Government consistently points to the National Construction Code but there are so many loopholes in building codes across the country that a squadron of bulldozers could be driven through them.
The Government must do more than issue media releases saying “Trust us”.
Each day the Government fails to respond to the widespread misuse of these dangerous products, Australian lives are at risk.