THOUSANDS OF RESIDENTS could face unavoidable multi-million-dollar bills for dangerous cladding


Firefighters at the scene of the Lacrosse fire in November 2014.


THE NSW LIBERAL GOVERNMENT has put the onus … the cost of cladding replacement back on apartment buyers not DEVELOPERS 

(nor manufacturers, importers, contractors … )

THIS clearly stinks …  the stuff of “jackboots” as apartment owners have no way of avoiding “ginormous bills” or face being fined … or even sent to gaol.

This government has not only outlawed multiple flammable cladding types including ACP, but has moved to ban the material restrospectively!

Thousands of residents could face unavoidable multi-million-dollar bills for dangerous cladding

Highly flammable cladding found in buildings across Sydney
  • Highly flammable cladding found in buildings across SydneyNOW
    Highly flammable cladding found in buildings across Sydney
  • Combustible cladding found on hospital building
    Combustible cladding found on hospital building
  • More than 1000 Victorian buildings have combustible cladding
    More than 1000 Victorian buildings have combustible cladding
  • Apartment residents forced to pay for removal of combustible cladding
    Apartment residents forced to pay for removal of combustible cladding
  • Dangerous cladding found on buildings in NSW
    Dangerous cladding found on buildings in NSW

Thousands of property owners across Australia could soon be faced with unavoidable multi-million-dollar bills – or even prison – if they fail to ensure buildings constructed with flammable cladding materials don’t meet new safety regulations.

Following the devastating Grenfell tower fire disaster last year in the UK that killed 72 people, Australian states and territories have begun to act to minimise the risk of a similar tragedy happening locally.

The flammable type of cladding that caused the worst domestic blaze in Britain since World War II – and is now the focus of country-wide investigations – is aluminium composite panelling (ACP) with a polyethylene core.

The devastating Grenfell tower fire disaster in the UK in 2017 has spurred Australian states and territories into action to reduce the risk of a similar tragedy. (AAP)

And while each state and territory is approaching the life-threatening issue differently, it is in NSW where unknowing residents could be hit with ginormous bills they have no way of avoiding or face being fined – or even sent to jail.

That’s because this month, not only did the state Liberal government outlaw multiple flammable cladding types, including ACP, on new and existing buildings of two storeys or higher – requiring owners to register them online and work towards removing the panelling or sufficiently mitigating any risk – but they also moved to ban the material retrospectively.

That means residents of buildings built years ago with the cladding must now also rectify what is deemed dangerous.

The flammable cladding material that caused the Grenfell disaster was aluminium composite panelling (ACP) with a polyethylene core.(AAP)

The NSW branch president of the Strata Community Association (SCA), Chris Duggan told the bill would fall onto strata residents who likely moved into the buildings while completely unaware of the financial burden the exterior cladding could present.


“It’s going to require those buildings to determine the most effective response – it’s a costly and lengthy exercise,” he said.

“It’s a very difficult to pin a figure on this. If you imagine a high-rise building… it’s feasible that that could be a multi-million-dollar job.

Each state and territory in Australia is now independently approaching the life-threatening issue of flammable cladding on buildings locally. (AAP)

*“The cost does fall on the lot owner ultimately, which means that they have to pay, regardless of the situation – for the systemic failure of the entire supply chain. *

“There are people that are completely unaware that they have a potential fire risk inherent in their building… but also the consequential financial burden of replacing that, at arguably no upside – they’re not getting a better building out of it.”

In NSW alone, the penalties are significant. Corporations face a maximum fine of $1.1 million for non-compliance with an added $110,000 each day dangerous cladding is not removed. For individuals, it’s $220,000 and a further $44,000 each day – or risking two years jail.

It is in NSW though, where unknowing residents could soon be faced with ginormous bills they have no way of avoiding for the rectification or removal of cladding. (9news)

And Mr Duggan told authorities investigating the life-threatening issue had only unearthed the tip of the iceberg.

“In terms of the prevalence of aluminium cladding on strata buildings, this is a massive issue and I don’t think we’ve got a good understanding of the extent of cladding on buildings,” he said.

“(It’s) why most states across Australia have moved to a compulsory registering system where owners will have to identify buildings above two stories that have cladding on them.”

Under new laws, non-compliance will also risk being slapped with mammoth fines or two years in jail.. (9news)

Australia’s cladding problem, state-by-state


A NSW Government taskforce has so far flagged around 185,000 buildings state-wide and inspected more than 2300 for dangerous flammable cladding.

Of those, 420 have been identified as “high-risk” and 85 buildings are high-rise buildings.


All public schools and public housing buildings have been cleared.

Among the buildings with a potential fire safety risk however, are Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital, ABC studios in Ultimo and the Chatswood’s Concourse Centre.

A spokesperson from the cladding taskforce said: “Where cladding products have been installed on existing buildings in contravention of the building product use ban, local councils may require owners to take any necessary steps to mitigate the fire safety risk.

“Owners who fail to comply with orders issued by an enforcement authority can be subject to penalties under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.”

The maximum penalties under the act are $1.1 million in the case of a corporation, and a further $110,000 for each day the offence continues. (A) $220,000 (fine) or two years imprisonment, or both, in the case of an individual, and a further $44,000 for each day the offence continues.

Owners of buildings constructed within the past six years can then seek recourse against potentially complicit builders and developers under statutory warranty provisions that define ACP cladding as a “major defect”.


Victoria’s government-backed cladding taskforce identified 1400 planning permits they determined may have cladding and flagged them for further assessment.

The Lacrosse building suffered significant fire damage during a huge blaze that was also caused because of the flammable cladding material that its exterior was lined with.

Around 200 buildings have been identified with cladding and between 45-50 have been flagged as “high risk”.

The government has refused to publicly identify which buildings are involved.

Victorian Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, introduced legislation to create Cladding Rectification Agreements between building owners, local councils and lenders.

Builder L.U. Simon is being sued for damages by the 328 apartment owners affected by the fire - a case which could prove important in determining future liability in other incidents.

The low-interest loans are guaranteed by local authorities through their rates system and owners can pay back the loans through their rates.

The Lacrosse building suffered extensive fire damage due to cladding in 2014. Builder, L.U. Simon, is being sued for damages by the 328 apartment owners.

The outcome of this case, currently in front of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), will be important in determining liability across Victoria.


An audit of almost 28,000 government buildings that ended in April this year identified 172 needing further review. Of those, three are undergoing rectification.

Across the country, there are thousands of buildings that have been assessed on their safety rating based on cladding materials - ranging from hospitals to government buildings to stadiums and private apartment buildings.

Another building has finished rectification – at a cost of $12,000.

Letters are also being sent to around 12,000 owners of private high-rise buildings built since 1994.

In Queensland, new regulations coming into effect on October 1 require owners to self-assess buildings for dangerous cladding and fix any issues themselves.

In Brisbane, the Princess Alexandra Hospital came under fire for the presence of highly-flammable cladding on the outside of the structure.

“We expect the owners of 10,000 or more privately owned buildings will be able to rule out needing any further investigation for their buildings,” a spokeswoman for the Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said.

South Australia

So far, 47 government-owned buildings needing further inspection have been identified by the SA government.

Planning Minister Stephan Knoll said in a statement that four high profile buildings had been prioritised “given their significance to the State”, but said implementing improved safety measures, such as extra evacuation routes, would be considered rather than the removal of ACP.

In South Australia, the Royal Adelaide Hospital has been prioritised by the state government for further action to reduce cladding-related fire risk. (AAP)

Those buildings are the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Adelaide Convention Centre, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Adelaide Oval.

“The State Government will continue to work through all building classes to ensure that the risk presented by ACP is well managed,” Mr Knoll said.

Western Australia

The WA government has so far investigated 1734 buildings. Of those, 240 were deemed to need further risk assessment.

With audits of buildings extending across each jurisdiction, the cladding risk issue has been a highly politicised topic in recent years. (AAP)

Of the 112 that have been assessed, just one has been referred to a permit authority for further action.

The WA Government has also said that any cost linked to the further action to a building are the owner’s responsibility unless the building was constructed within the past six years.

Northern Territory

In an ongoing state-wide audit, no residential or commercial multi-storey buildings with non-compliant cladding have been identified.

While there remains some confusion about who could be deemed liable in cladding fire incidents, the extreme financial burden of rectifying the immediate risks falls on building owners, and therefore residents living in affected structures.


An ACT Government spokesperson told a review into government and privately-owned buildings is yet to establish concrete numbers of affected buildings.

Despite that the spokesperson said detailed assessments have begun for “higher risk” buildings, with privately-owned buildings expected to be investigated in 2019.


A government-initiated audit of non-compliant ACP that began last year has identified one building – the Launceston General Hospital – as needing rectification.


A government spokesperson told “all high risk cladding” has now been taken off the building, with further removal to come in 2019.

In total, another 42 buildings were also investigated in the audit but were not found to have any additional fire safety risk linked to cladding.

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