On 31 July 2015 the Building Minister's Forum (BMF) met to consider the preliminary investigations into the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne. The Ministers:
- established a Senior Officers Group (SOG) to develop strategies to address non-conforming building products. The Unit Manager Building Policy is a member of the SOG.
- requested that the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) investigate options for a mandatory scheme for high risk products; and consider amending the National Construction Code to require sprinklers on balconies. Initiatives include reviewing the evidence of suitability requirements, referencing a new Australian Standard 5113 - Fire propagation testing and classification of external walls in buildings in the NCC and reviewing the current provisions relating to the fire safety of external cladding to ensure clarity.
Both the SOG and the ABCB reported to the BMF at its meeting on 19 February 2016. The BMF produced a Communique outlining the strategies and measures to be undertaken to ensure the community can continue to have confidence in the safety of buildings in Australia. Ministers agreed that:
- the ABCB address in more detail the risks associated with cladding used in high rise buildings and work with the SOG and the States and Territories to address the non-compliant use of building products.
- the SOG, in conjunction with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, fast track the development of an information sharing platform between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories. The SOG report Strategies to address risks related to non-conforming building products has been released for public consultation and is available from the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works website.
Senate inquiry into non-conforming building products
On 23 June 2015 the Senate referred an inquiry into non-conforming building products to the Senate Economics Reference Committee. Submissions closed on 3 August 2015.
Given the concerns raised in the written submissions, the Committee conducted two public hearings in Canberra on 13 November 2015 and in Melbourne on 15 February 2016.
The final report is due for release on 10 May 2016. Further information, including the submissions made to the inquiry, is available from the Parliament of Australia.