Unit owners in Queensland call for urgent audit after Grenfell Tower fire
Tony Moore
20 June 2017

One million Queenslanders who live in apartments want assurances from the state's building watchdog that units are safe, in the wake of London's Grenfell Tower fire disaster.

Wayne Stevens, president of the Unit Owners Association of Queensland, said its members had also raised concerns there were problems with inadequate fire systems in some Queensland apartment buildings.

"We will support any proposal for a statewide audit as a matter of urgency," Mr Stevens said.

"Our concerns are about strata buildings in Queensland. Are our buildings safe?

"That's what we want to know."

Mr Stevens said there 450,000 strata units in Queensland, meaning more than 1 million Queenslanders were living in apartments in the state.

Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said early investigations showed a small number of properties in Queensland used aluminium cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower.

Mr Stevens said unit-dwellers had raised concerns with authorities about "Class 2" buildings, with two or more sole-occupancy units in the building, such as apartment complexes.

Former New South Wales fire and rescue chief engineer Ben Hughes-Brown told the ABC there were four main types of aluminium cladding used in buildings in Australia.

The crucial question was the degree of flammability of the core product within the aluminium cladding, he said.

The NSW government is setting up an inter-departmental taskforce to try to stop risky building products being used.

“We will support any proposal for a statewide audit as a matter of urgency.
—Unit Owners of Queensland president Wayne Stevens

Mr Stevens said he expected Queensland's Building and Construction Commission had "considerable responsibility" in this particular area.

"It will be interesting to see what comes forward from them in terms of how they see these issues being addressed," he said.

Mr Stevens said Australia's building codes were not respected in Queensland.

"We have issues we are trying to have addressed in terms of classification of buildings and we can't get even get to first base on these.

"There are issues in Queensland where Class 2 buildings are being misused for the purpose for which they were being built.

"These are very serious issues and we need to have them addressed."

Mr Stevens said the association had recently written to the Gold Coast City Council with a series of issues it said were not being considered by the council.

Queensland's Building and Construction Commission referred all questions to Mr de Brenni.

The minister said initial reports showed a small number of buildings which used "non-conforming" cladding.

"In each of these cases the problems have been rectified or remediated and the properties have been deemed safe for occupancy," Mr de Brenni said.

One case was identified by Fairfax Media in January 2016 in new student accommodation in Mary Street in the CBD.

Mr de Brenni said Queensland's fire safety laws were "the safest in the country".

Laws were introduced to state parliament on May 25, 2017, to give the Queensland Building and Construction Commission "sweeping powers" to deal with non-confirming building products, Mr de Brenni said.

"That will include powers to reach back up the national supply chain to stop these products coming into Queensland building sites," he said.


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