Flammable cladding fix on government buildings set to cost tens of millions of dollars
The Queensland Government is preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars to make dozens of government buildings safer, following its investigations into the use of flammable cladding.
A year-long inquiry has found about 880 buildings need further investigation but at least 70 will require rectification work.
The audit looked at the extent of combustible cladding in Queensland following the deadly Grenfell Tower disaster in London last year, in which dozens of people were killed.
Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said while it would cost millions, the Government could not put a price on safety.
“We can’t put a dollar figure on the lives of Queenslanders so we’ll be making sure all buildings within the scope are assessed,” he said.
The taskforce is preparing to assess an additional 12,000 privately owned buildings, including about 1,200 residential structures.
While private owners would be asked to remove the cladding, Mr de Brenni said the State Government would be prepared to increase its powers to ensure strict safety measures were enforced.
“If there are private buildings that are found to be a risk through this process, then we are prepared to legislate to require rectification if necessary,” he said.
The report said the dangerous material was first noticed in the United States more than a decade ago after a fire at the Water Club in Atlantic City.
It was followed by a number of similar incidents including a fire at the Residential Tower in Roubaix, France in 2012, a blaze at the Lacrosse apartments in Melbourne’s Docklands and other fires in Dubai’s Torch Tower in 2015 and again in 2017.
Most dangerous cladding found on the Princess Alexandra Hospital exterior has since been removed. (ABC TV)
The bulk of the cladding on the hospital has been removed and work to replace it will soon begin.
Mr de Brenni said the taskforce had also been asked to submit evidence to the Grenfell Tower inquiry in the United Kingdom.
“We are now internationally recognised as having the most sophisticated approach to dealing with combustible cladding,” he said.
“But our focus though is really about making sure that Queensland buildings are safe whether you live in them, whether you work in them, whether you play in them.”
The Queensland report recommends stronger laws to prevent any more combustible facades being installed in new buildings and for the State Government to establish a database to keep track of buildings that need further attention.
The report was prepared by former MP Terry Mackenroth, who died last month. It will be tabled in Parliament this week.