Cladding fires: Industry demands states be pulled into line

AUSTRALIA'S five largest industry groups are demanding urgent action on the nation's "patchy and inconsistent" building rules.

Labor has accused the federal government of failing to show leadership on the issue but the industry minister blames the states and territories for the mess.

Leading figures in the building, construction, property and insurance industries have taken aim at state and territory governments for their mixed responses to combustible cladding on high-rise developments.

The Neo 200 apartment fire in Melbourne's Spencer Street last month was spread by cladding similar to that used in the Grenfell Tower blaze.
The Neo 200 apartment fire

The groups argue the inconsistent approaches are fanning a crisis in the building supply chain.

"Building surveyors, engineers and architects are now struggling to obtain the insurance they need to do their job," they said in a joint statement on Monday.

"Consumers, building owners, building practitioners and their insurers need certainty and confidence in building regulation."

The industry groups are calling on the Commonwealth to urgently pull the states and territories into line.

But federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews is in no doubt about who is to blame.

"These are failures with building regulations, compliance and enforcement which are state and territory issues," she said.

The industry groups want a consistent, national response to risk assessment and a joint strategy for existing buildings with combustible cladding.

"This will reduce confusion, clarify the scale of the challenge and support a viable professional indemnity insurance market that provides the coverage needed by industry participants and building owners."

The groups also want a joint task force, comprised of government and industry representatives, to oversee a recent report into building surveying.

Labor's industry spokesman Brendan O'Connor has called on the federal government to show national leadership to ensure commercial and residential buildings are up to scratch.

"Each day the Morrison government fails to respond to the widespread risks of dangerous building products, more Australian lives are put at risk," he said.

"Australians deserve to feel safe, especially in their own homes and workplaces."