Labor-Greens Government ‘does not know the scope of combustible cladding issue in the ACT’


In Estimates Hearings today, Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction Rebecca Vassarotti was unable to verify how many Canberra apartment buildings may be affected by serious life-threatening combustible cladding.

It was also revealed that the Labor-Greens Government has still not undertaken an audit of privately owned buildings in the ACT to confirm the presence of combustible cladding; this despite a Canberra high-rise apartment affected by combustible cladding narrowly avoiding potential tragedy more than four years ago.

Canberra Liberals Leader Elizabeth Lee said the only assessment the government has conducted into the extent of this issue was an informal kerbside identification of buildings above two storeys in a handful of locations around the ACT by ACT Fire and Rescue in 2019.

“This assessment estimated the number at 90 buildings, but a 2019 report by Equity Economics estimated the number at almost 160,” Ms Lee said.

“The government’s failure to identify buildings potentially affected by combustible cladding for over four years is a concern.

“The Minister needs to be upfront and honest with Canberra apartment owners and strata managers about these issues.

“A home is the biggest asset someone will ever own. The Government has issued certificate of occupancies of all apartment buildings in the ACT, certifying these buildings as safe to occupy.

“Apartment owners need certainty now, not more unanswered questions and ‘wait and see’ promises from this Government.”

Shadow Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction Mark Parton said apartments account for 16.7 per cent of homes in the ACT, with the government planning to build 70 per cent of all new development within the existing urban footprint.

“There are many questions apartment owners in the ACT need answers to and it is incumbent on the Labor-Greens Government to finally give these owners some certainty,” Mr Parton said.

“Some of these questions include what will the impact be on the insurance market and is the government liable for works, given they have certified for them to be occupied?

“The Labor-Greens Government also won’t reveal the names of the potentially 90 apartment buildings affected, and it is not good enough.

“Four years since the horrific tragedy of the London Grenfell Tower the ACT Government is still dragging its feet on the issue and this needs to be addressed,” concluded Mr Parton.