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Senate Standing Committee recommends complete ban on aluminium composite cladding

In May 2015 we reported on the issue of non-conforming and non-compliant building products in the Australian construction industry. The Grenfell Tower fire disaster in London has tragically brought the issue of non-conforming building products to public attention, particularly in respect of polyethylene (PE) core aluminium composite cladding used on high rise buildings. As with the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne in 2014, the use of this highly flammable type of cladding led to the rapid spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower.

Public interest in this issue continues, including with the recent ABC Four Corners program titled "Combustible". The Four Corners investigation indicated the widespread use of PE, a by-product of the petrochemical industry, in aluminium cladding across Australia over the last 30 years. The product has been connected to fires in Australia, Dubai, China, England and France.

The Senate Standing Committee report has recognised a range of issues specific to Australia's building and construction industry, including confusion surrounding the regulation of materials, a lack of enforcement and the absence of national licensing schemes. Alongside this, deregulation and self-accreditation within the industry has reduced accountability across the supply chain, leaving pressing questions of liability largely unresolved.

This legal alert includes a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction summary of current responses to this issue.

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