Grenfell Tower fire compels ACT to establish building safety taskforce | Owners Corporation Network

Grenfell Tower fire compels ACT to establish building safety taskforce

The Canberra Times


Grenfell Tower fire compels ACT to establish building safety taskforce

Finbar O'Mallon

Finbar O'Mallon 


The ACT government will establish a taskforce to review the amount of flammable cladding used in Canberra, the same believed to be at the centre of the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire in London.

A spokesperson for planning minister Mick Gentlemen previously confirmed the use of cladding was widespread in Canberra but stressed its use was not illegal.

The death toll for the Grenfell tower fire stands at 80.

The death toll for the Grenfell tower fire stands at 80. Photo: Frank Augstein

The ACT government is also set to take part in a national review into building compliance and certification.

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Master Builders ACT's executive director Kirk Coningham said the taskforce was important for the perception of public safety in Canberra.

"I'm still quite confident by and large the industry in the ACT is well managed and largely compliant," Mr Coningham said.


"But largely isn't good enough. I think we need to be completely compliant when we look at products that put people at such risk."

Mr Coningham said the taskforce should look at the use of cladding first before reviewing other issues involving building safety and ACT fire codes.

"We need to make sure that they [regulations] evolve appropriately," he said.

Mr Coningham said it was also important to look at similar reviews and taskforces internationally to determine the best course of action.

ACT Owners Corporation Network president Gary Petherbridge said the taskforce was good news but it needed to focus on the policing of the ACT's building regulations.

"Sure, the building codes and everything might be fine, but if there's no auditing or inadequate auditing then that's another problem," Mr Petherbridge said.

"If you want to talk about only cladding, you need to police the regulations around cladding."

Mr Gentleman said the ACT government had already begun a new auditing system, but Mr Petherbridge said he'd seen no evidence of one.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Mr Gentleman said they were starting on the taskforce "straight away".

"In the ACT we're not as at risk as much as some of the other cities, in that we have very good fire retardant materials in our taller buildings," Mr Gentleman said.

"Unlike the Grenfell fire, Canberrans can feel a lot safer in taller buildings in the ACT."

Mr Gentleman said his government had first raised the issue of non-compliant building materials at a national building ministers forum in 2010.

Mr Gentleman said Access Canberra,  the ACT's emergency services and the ACT's planning directorate would all be part of the taskforce.

Officials in London confirmed the death toll of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London was 80.

Flammable aluminium composite panels fitted to the outside of the building are widely suspected to have contributed to the inferno.

A similar type of panel has been blamed for a fire that devastated the Lacrosse apartment block in Melbourne's docklands in 2014.

The Victorian government has recently announced their own taskforce to review the use of cladding across the state.