FAULTY BUILDING MATERIALS SCANDAL HEATS UP

FAULTY BUILDING MATERIALS SCANDAL HEATS UP

NON-COMPLIANT building products have been blamed for fires which tore through Melbourne's Lacrosse Apartments last year, according to findings by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

Chinese-made Alucobest aluminium cladding, a material which does not meet Australian safety standards and which was used in construction of the building, is found to have fuelled the blaze.

More worrying is the fact this same product has been used in hundreds of other buildings, including many in the Brisbane area, according to legal professionals and industry workers.

Bennett & Philp Lawyers Brisbane director Mark O'Connor says pressure is growing for an industry standards review, while investigations have been undertaken by relevant regulatory bodies involving hundreds of other potentially affected high rises in Melbourne and Brisbane.

"There's been little public discussion here about this issue, but nationwide it's shaping up to be another scandal involving cheap imported products that have not been subjected to Australian standards testing," says O'Connor.

He says there needs to be a greater public awareness of inferior products, warning builders and tradesmen to be aware of the severe consequences before constructing with any defective materials.

"If someone is looking to save money by using cheap and untested products, then they need to know they can be held liable if the products cause injury or death," says O'Connor.

"It's not illegal to import a non-compliant building product but it is illegal to use it; paper-based certification is unreliable and can be highly dangerous."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper issued a statement assuring the public that all specialist bodies responsible for enforcing codes in each state will be investigating product origins and the safety of building materials used.

"The ACCC encourages builders and their representatives to work closely with their building regulators to complement the ACCC's consumer product safety initiative to encourage safe product stewardship," says Schaper.

"All retailers and wholesalers need to manage the quality assurance of goods they procure.

"This can be achieved through testing and inspection of finished goods, by monitoring the supply chain and by adopting safe and reliable procurement practices such as dealing with established suppliers they know and trust or developing such relationships with new suppliers."

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