The Abbott Government is considering a national certification scheme for inferior and potentially dangerous building products imported from overseas, following a national Building Ministers Forum held in Melbourne on 31 July.
At the forum, building Ministers from each state and territory recognised the need for a certification scheme that addresses concerns around high-risk building products. Non-compliant aluminium cladding manufactured in China was a significant factor in the spread of the Lacrosse Apartments fire in Docklands last year, which has led to a push for tougher laws on fire safety in high-rise buildings.
The certification scheme may include cladding, fire alarms, sprinkler systems and fire doors. The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) will also consider changing the National Construction Code so that sprinklers are installed on all balconies, regardless of size. As part of the recommendations presented at the forum, the Abbott Government agreed to investigate how customs and border control authorities can share information more easily with state regulators, to better control the supply and distribution of non-confirming imported products.
A working group has been established to investigate options for the national certification scheme and will report back to Ministers within six months.
Currently, the ABCB manages a certification scheme called CodeMark, which provides accreditation for products that are compliant with the Building Code of Australia, when used for the purpose set out in CodeMark’s Certification of Conformity. The industry-assisted scheme is voluntary and does not mandate product use for high-risk buildings, which has led to concerns about its effectiveness from industry and government.
It is unclear at this stage how the national certification scheme will differ from CodeMark, particularly as the costs associated with regular batch testing of imported products is likely to be significant. We will be joining other industry leaders in contacting NSW Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, to express our support of this scheme and ensure the lives of people in the community are not put at risk.
Contact us to find out what testing certificates are required on your development, or check whether your building products conform to Australian standards and regulations.