Page 2876 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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But it is not too late. As much as the minister can come in here, make statements and say that he is supporting the police, until this government bites the bullet and accepts, as the Chief Police Officer has asked for and many others have asked for, the need for appropriate anti-consorting laws, consistent broadly with New South Wales, this problem will not go away. Again, I implore the Attorney-General and the police minister to listen and to act.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Aluminium cladding working group

Ministerial statement

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.31): The following is an update on the aluminium cladding working group. Following the fire in a large housing complex in London, the ACT government set up a working group to investigate the use of aluminium cladding in Canberra buildings and the risk of potential structural fires. It is difficult and unwise to draw comparisons between the tragic Grenfell fire and the Australian situation. In Canberra we have been actively monitoring the use of aluminium cladding for over a decade, and the use of these materials is not common in the residential sector.

Community safety is a priority for this government, and I wish to discuss today the current approach to fire safety and building controls before outlining recent work in the ACT in response to the tragic events in London. Fire safety is not determined based on the presence of one material or another; many elements are considered in determining the fire safety of a building. It is the height of the building, the position and the number of suitable exits, access and egress, the type and vulnerability of tenants as well as the sprinkler systems, smoke detectors and fire alarms. A multiplicity of factors is built into the fabric of each building that combine to prevent the risk and spread of fire.

The presence of aluminium cladding on a building should not be seen in isolation as an inherently risky addition to a building. External cladding material, including aluminium composite panels, is considered safe if it is installed in accordance with the National Construction Code, or the NCC. Common materials used for cladding include weatherboard, lightweight panels such as aluminium composite panels, polystyrene products and metal sheeting. Again, I would like to highlight that this particular type of cladding is not normally used in residential buildings in Canberra.

Under the Building Act 2004 all new buildings and new building work must comply with the fire safety requirements of the NCC. The NCC requires minimum fire resistance levels for certain building components, fire separation, fire compartmentalisation and fire exits. Fire safety systems are also required to be installed, such as fire hydrant systems, portable fire extinguishers, smoke alarm systems and emergency evacuation lighting. The external walls of residential buildings two storeys or more in height are generally required to be non-combustible.

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