AIBS Member Statement 5 July 2017

In the wake of the Grenfell fire disaster in London, there have been many new developments and commentaries on the building and construction industry here in Australia.

This member statement is to keep you up to date on the main developments.

The second of three scheduled meetings this year of the Building Ministers’ Forum was held last Friday in Brisbane. This Forum took on greater significance because of the growing tidal wave of concern about building safety after Grenfell. Following the Forum, a communique was issued which said, in part,

 "The BMF, in response to the concerns raised as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, is commissioning an expert to report back as quickly as possible to examine the broader compliance and enforcement problems within the building & construction systems (for example: education, licensing, design, quality assurance, competencies of practitioners, importation) affecting the implementation of the National Construction Code (NCC)."

You can read the full BMF communique here.

AIBS welcomes any review into the building regulatory system, provided it is conducted independently, is consultative and well researched. We will advocate for a review to encompass aspects of the entire building regulatory system in Australia and not simply a ‘Band-Aid’ approach to the problems we are currently experiencing.  There also needs to be greater co-operation between the States at harmonising building regulation to achieve greater consistency across borders.

Mainstream news media coverage of issues arising from the Grenfell tragedy has been intense and continues. As usual, commentary from some sections of the industry has been ill-informed and unhelpful to say the least. In particular, the Fire Protection Association and Engineers Australia have provided negative and uniformed commentary about the role of building surveyors. 

Before taking pot shots at others, it is important for all professional groups to consider the role, responsibilities and actions of their members in the building and construction industry. Public safety is the key.

AIBS has aimed to make informed public commentary in the mainstream news media. Vice President Wayne Liddy appeared on the ABC 7.30 Report on 29 June in relation to the role of the building surveyors and, if you missed it, have a look at the story on ABC's IView.

In addition, an article in News Ltd publications including Sydney Telegraph, Sunday Herald Sun and the independent Perth based Sunday Times, quoted AIBS in response to the statement made by the Fire Protection Association. 

Vice President Wayne Liddy raised the prospect of destructive testing in response to building surveyors once again being singled out as the profession solely responsible for non-confirming products. While destructive testing is not something we would wish to see, the point was made that if the supply chain is not sufficiently reinforced to guarantee products adequately meet the required standards, then destructive testing may be something AIBS will begin to advocate for. You can read the article here.

AIBS will continue to advocate for greater accountability right through the building supply chain and, while building surveyors are prepared as always to be accountable, we must be supported by the rest of the 'team'!   

AIBS is also preparing another submission to the Senate Economics References Committee relating to non-conforming building products taking place now in the Federal Parliament. This inquiry is currently inviting submissions specific to the issue of external cladding. The platform of the AIBS submission will be the report published by AIBS last year relating to the use of ACP. This AIBS report and the supporting discussion paper can be found here.

The Senate Economics References Committee intends to hold a public hearing for its inquiry into non-conforming building products in Sydney on 19 July 2017 and AIBS has been invited to appear. 

The hearing will focus on implications of the use of non-compliant external cladding materials in Australia. 

As a result of the timing of this hearing, member consultation in regard to our submission will unfortunately be very limited and we will require any member feedback to be sent to by COB 12 July 2017 for consideration into the submission.

We will keep you up to date with any further developments.

Timothy Tuxford
AIBS President