"The ancient Greeks believed opal came from the tears of Zeus. When opal turns to tears again it will ... bring down Australia's booming high rise apartment business." - From the Opal Tower Sydney Residents Facebook page
Three months after the initial evaculation of Opal Tower on Christmase Eve 2018, nearly half of the tower's apartments are still not fit for reoccupation and hundreds of people remain in temporary digs.
The report commissioned by the NSW Department of Planning contained disturbing revelations in light of the high-density development boom currently sweeping through the natino's capital cities. It found a number of design and construction issues, including "non-compliance with national codes and standards", had caused major damage to the tower.
The findings sent a jolt through NSW's $25 billion construction sector and beyond.
"Successive parliaments throughout the country have focused more on procurement of housing stock than how it's been constructed and the safety of people within it," says Stephen Goddard, strata solicitor and spokesman for advocacy group Owners Corporation Network of Australia. Problems in the industry, he says, can be traced back to the deregulation of the late 1990s. "For the last 20 years you've had more consumer protection purchasing a fridge than a million-dollar apartment.
"It's critical that good public policy be created around this issue," Goddard says. "The NSW Government has to follow through on its commitmet and the other states need to follow suit or we'll have more and more Opals. I would advocate in the strongest possible way that people not purchase off the plan until we have that statutory duty of care that allows owners to sue if there's a breach."