Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 September 2017) . . Page.. 3990 ..
We agree with the need to keep the public informed. It is also critical that we do not stigmatise buildings, have them labelled as unsafe or cause unnecessary public concern just because the building may have some form of panel as part of the wall or attachment. As I have mentioned, this does not mean the building is unsafe. Panel and other fire protection measures may well be compliant and fit for their purpose. The government will provide an update to this Assembly in October about the progress of this work on government buildings and the findings to date.
The recommendation in the Senate Economics Reference Committee’s interim report on aluminium composite cladding to ban the import and all use of panels in Australia has been raised by the opposition. An import ban can only be imposed by the Australian government. Banning or restricting the use of one product is not without risk and would need to be carefully thought through so that it does not create an immediate switch to other products that could pose an equal or greater risk.
Ms Lawder made some comments in relation to her request to my office on the 12th in regard to aluminium cladding panels. There were some 23 components to that email. She may not be happy with the response that I provided, but I did provide a response. Contrary to her comments today, I did reply to Ms Lawder. The reply did not answer each of the 23 components in turn; however, it did respond to the issue of cladding in as much detail as could be provided at that point in time, noting that when the reply was sent, the government was still in the process of setting up the cross-directorate working group.
In my response to Ms Lawder I said that the community would be kept informed of the working group, which I have done, as evidenced by my ministerial statement to the Assembly on 17 August. I will continue, as I have said, to provide updates to the community on this important matter. I look forward to continuing to discuss the work together on improving building safety in the ACT and at the national level, and I look forward to updating the Assembly at the next sitting.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.52): For any member of the public listening to Mr Gentleman, I think that the net result would be one of confusion. There were a lot of words, but the overall feeling is that there is a lot of skirting around of the issues. We still have not addressed the substantive issue raised in Ms Lawder’s motion: if we have known about this issue since 2009, why are we in a situation where we need to conduct an audit now and why do we not have this information already? And if this has been the case since 2009, how is it that a recently completed building, which, according to everybody, has received a certificate of occupancy and therefore should be in compliance with the building code, suddenly needs to have what appear to be non-compliant panels removed as a matter of safety?
My particular interest has been in relation to the buildings associated with the health portfolio. I am glad to see that now the government, through its amendment, is proposing to report upon the health portfolio buildings. But it is not satisfactory: neither this minister nor the health minister has satisfactorily answered the questions about the women’s and children’s hospital. Mr Gentleman spoke on a number of