Hundreds of buildings with found to have “high risk” flammable cladding around the country have been left with residents inside and unaware, like ticking time bombs.
The buildings around Australia, marked as “high risk” across the country, have been kept secret from the public, because of government fears of deadly arson.
In NSW, a complete inability to insure a statewide remediation package has completely stalled plans to fix the problem, a parliamentary inquiry was told yesterday.
A representative from the insurance industry told a parliamentary inquiry that the state is at such a stalemate he cannot foresee a time when remediation works on deadly cladding covering hundreds of buildings across the state could possibly begin.
He said insurers had placed an “exclusion” on offering products related to cladding, because they were facing issues of “uncapped liability”.
“It’s impossible to calculate the losses going forward,” said Karl Sullivan, General Manager Policy Risk Disaster from the Insurance Council of Australia yesterday told a parliamentary inquiry looking into issues within the building industry in NSW.
He explained that work on the statewide remediation project cannot begin, because “exclusion” on offering cladding-based insurance products has meant such projects simply cannot be rolled out by the state government.
Mr Sullivan said the industry, left to its own devices without proper government oversight, now presented insurers with an issue of “uncapped liability.”
In the past 12 months, a total 1422 buildings across NSW have been identified as likely containing dangerous combustible cladding, across 26 councils, according to The Saturday Telegraph.
The buildings, identified by the NSW Cladding Taskforce Register, are strictly secret, however, 350 of these are in the City of Sydney, and 174 are in Parramatta Council, 85 are within Bankstown Council and 66 are in Canada Bay Council.
The government has said they currently can’t begin work on remediation on the dangerous buildings, because nobody will insure the massive remediation package.
In NSW, 63 government-owned buildings have been marked for remediation by the state’s cladding task force.
The NSW Cladding Task Force was assembled, along with task forces in the other states and territories, in response to the Grenfell Tower Disaster, a tower fire at a block of flats in June 2017.
The fire was caused by a fridge-freezer catching alight. The fire breached through a window, while firefighters were on the scene, and rapidly spread upward through the building’s combustible cladding, killing 72 people.
The Victorian government previously committed to pay half of the estimated $600 million cost of repairing flammable cladding on buildings across the state. Premier Daniel Andrews initially appealed to the Federal government to pay the remaining $300 million, a plea which was swiftly rejected by the federal coalition.
“We’re not picking up the bill for what is a state responsibility,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.
“The problems in relation to cladding (in Victoria) have been a failure of compliance and enforcement at a state level.”
The Victorian government then introduced statewide levies, charged to homeowners, to recoup the remaining $300 million.
Mr Andrews has flagged that the initial $600 million cost is likely to further escalate.
Phil Dwyer, of the Builders Collective of Australia, said builders and certifiers had failed the industry, and government was at fault for giving them a bail out.
“It should be the builders and their consultants paying for this, along with the government, because they’ve been totally unwilling to properly regulate the industry,” Mr Dwyer told The Age.
Residents in Queensland could face personal costs of up to $60,000 per apartment, according to reports. In the state, 237 strata-managed buildings have been identified as being covered in combustible flammable cladding, with estimates that number could rise as high as 500, according to The Courier Mail.
In Western Australia, no buildings have been earmarked as being of “extreme risk”, according to the state’s commerce minister John Quigley.
WA residents have been told that 12 private and 19 public buildings, still unnamed, require remediation work, to address the combustible cladding on the buildings.
In Tasmania, the state government has been criticised by the Labor opposition, accused of not acting fast enough to remediate buildings with dangerous cladding.
The government has held eight Ministerial Council meetings over the past five years, discussing the issue, but failed to move forward with an action plan, according to The Mercury. In Tasmania, 42 buildings were identified as being of “some risk” because of flammable cladding, including a university housing block in Hobart, and the state’s new parliament Square building.