Page 2879 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017
However, as we have seen in the public domain in the past couple of days, the government has seen fit to install cladding on some of its own assets much more recently, in 2012, at the women and children’s hospital in Woden. So it is hard to understand why, while there is an awareness of the dangers posed by these types of cladding, the government have chosen to continue to install some of these claddings onto their own buildings.
I asked in my questions to Mr Gentleman on 12 July about the audit and when it would be finished and available. Whilst he has referred to the government undertaking an audit of ACT buildings in his report that he has tabled today, it does not give a date as to when that might be available. I think people in the ACT would like to know whether the buildings they work in, for example, have potentially dangerous cladding on them.
We all understand the way the building code works and that buildings have to be compliant as at the date they are built and do not necessarily have to be retrospectively fitted with up-to-date building materials. But I wonder why, for example, there may not be a hotline or some way for builders, tradies or even members of the public to ring and ask about whether a building they work in may have this dangerous cladding. Indeed, given that the government have said in this report that they are encouraging the private sector to look at buildings, there should be a way for people to report to the government on these potentially hazardous buildings.
Another interesting aspect, of course, is that some buildings are on commonwealth land and these buildings do not necessarily have to comply with the ACT building code. According to the response I got from the minister, “the commonwealth is exempt from ACT building laws in relation to building work undertaken by or for the Australian government”. That is directly quoted from the minister’s reply to me. That is a very interesting point. Whilst that may not come directly under the ACT’s jurisdiction, there are ACT residents working or living in these buildings. The safety of our residents is an absolutely important issue, and people have every right to be concerned about their safety in these buildings and about what the response would be if a terrible situation arose.
Whilst one does not want to scare people, as we become aware of these situations it is incumbent on the government to address them in the quickest possible way. We have not heard today about when this audit will be completed and when the information will be available. I have not had a response from Minister Gentleman to quite a number of my questions to him and I wonder why he is not being open and transparent. But, as we talked about yesterday in the chamber, I guess that is not a surprise.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Centenary Hospital for Women and Children
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (10.44): Following Minister Gentleman’s update to the Assembly this