Vow to fix building crisis as Sydney Uni under microscope
State and federal ministers have struck an agreement to pursue nationally consistent building standards as The Daily Telegraph can reveal three University of Sydney buildings are among a dozen CBD structures at the centre of the city's potentially deadly flammable cladding crisis.
Federal industry minister Karen Andrews says the two tiers of government will fund a task force to carry out recommendations from a recent report, which identified serious failures as they try to repair a deepening crisis in the construction sector.
"We have brokered an agreement that there will be a nationally consistent approach to recommendations of the report," Ms Andrews said today.
"Our intention this morning is to meet with industry, key stakeholders, to discuss the implementation of the report.
"[And] also to talk about other issues - including insurance - professional indemnity and building insurance." Ms Andrews had offered to fund a similar task force in February, but the states rejected it.
The group will be responsible for restoring confidence in the building sector, which is plagued by widespread problems.
Hundreds of existing buildings still have dangerous combustible cladding that need to be replaced, with the industry also dealing with defective and faulty buildings, and soaring insurance premiums.
A City of Sydney document shows recommendations to replace cladding on skyscrapers at 44 Martin Street, the Quay Apartments in Haymarket and the Regis Tower in Castlereagh Street, along with the TraveLodge in Wentworth Ave, the Mantra on Kent and Adina Darling Harbour.
Another 32 buildings in the City of Sydney area have been assessed as needing to remove and replace some of the now-illegal cladding, while most buildings have still not been examined, according to the document obtained from the council under freedom of information.
The University of Sydney has put in place rapid fire response plans to evacuate students as it investigates whether all of its buildings are free of combustible cladding.
The university listed 18 potentially dangerous buildings with the state government's register and said three were still being investigated after the others were declared safe.
Among its buildings which were registered as having cladding were the Abercrombie Student Housing, the Noel Martin Sports & Aquatic Centre and its Administration building.
It is not known which three have not yet been cleared.
"The majority of our buildings have been assessed as compliant with current upgraded fire standards and considered a low-risk however there are three buildings where the percentage of polyethylene core is unknown due to their age," a university spokesperson said yesterday.
"The safety of our students and staff is always our highest priority.
"Our Emergency Planning Committee has developed additional fire response strategies for these buildings while the investigations are taking place."
University of Sydney cladding assessment list
- -University of Sydney Business School
- -University of Sydney Abercrombie Student Housing
- -University of Sydney Codrington Building
- -University of Sydney Eastern Avenue Auditorium Complex
- -University of Sydney Boundary Lane Children’s Centre
- -University of Sydney Oval 2 Grandstand
- -University of Sydney Sydney Nanoscience Hub
- -University of Sydney Brain and Mind Centre
- -University of Sydney Social Sciences Building
- -University of Sydney Administration Building
- -University of Sydney Gordon Yu-Hoi Chiu Building
- -University of Sydney Noel Martin Sports & Aquatic Centre
- -University of Sydney Jane Foss Russell Building
- -University of Sydney Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences Building
- -University of Sydney Holme Building
- -University of Sydney New Law Annex
- -University of Sydney New Law Building
- -University of Sydney Charles Perkins Center
Their investigation into the use of cladding began soon after the June 2017 fire broke out in London's 24-storey Grenfell Tower that killed 72 residents.
Fire and Rescue NSW has now identified 629 buildings across the state as being at high risk of containing the dangerous aluminium composite combustible cladding and has drawn up emergency rapid response firefighting plans for each of them.
SEE THE FULL LIST OF CBD BUILDINGS BELOW
There are 171 buildings identified in Parramatta - 125 of which are residential - and 63 in The Hills, 17 in Ryde and 13 in Woollahra.
Mr Anderson yesterday said NSW would not be following Victoria's lead and using taxpayer dollars to deal with the flammable cladding crisis. Around $20 million has already been spent by NSW Health fixing cladding issues on 120 medical buildings.
Property Council CEO Ken Morrison was among the industry leaders crying out for a nationally consistent approach.
"Let's have a consistent approach to this around the country. Let's not just have a single-issue solution, because that won't cut it," Mr Morrison said. "Let's not have state by state, go-it-alone solutions, because that won't cut it.
"And let's not walk out of here with state and federal governments do a normal blame-game scenario because that won't cut it either."
The meeting of ministers comes after Australia's five largest industry groups demanded urgent action on the nation's "patchy and inconsistent" building rules. "Industry is concerned that the lack of consistent or co-ordinated action by governments … not only threatens many thousands of on-site jobs but also undermines public confidence in the industry as a whole," Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox told AAP.
"The issues confronting the ministers relate to the need to maintain public confidence in the sustainability of Australia's fourth-largest industry."
The construction industry has called for better enforcement of rules so that cowboy operators are held to account.
It has also issued warnings the industry is at risk of falling apart over insurance companies offering private building certifiers coverage with exclusions for dangerous materials such as cladding.
A spokesman for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, which has charge of the register of these buildings, said; "Publishing information about potential risks that are as yet unconfirmed could create unfounded and unnecessary concern and would be completely inappropriate."
The spokesman said affected building owners, residents and local councils affected had all been contacted.
Councils are also refusing to list the buildings, with sources saying they could affect the apartment prices.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, who obtained the lists from the City of Sydney and Woollahra under FOI rules, said it had reached crisis point with no way of knowing whether the buildings had been repaired or how many were potentially dangerous.
The buildings on the government's list have either been placed there after inspections by Fire and Rescue NSW or after private assessments.
- with AAP