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16 July 2019
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced a $600m fund to pay for rectification of 500 buildings identified by an audit, and called on the federal government for “a proper partnership, beyond politics” to co-fund the project. The announcement is a win for owners of buildings that have flammable cladding, who were facing huge rectification costs.
The move was among 35 recommendations made by the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, led by former Liberal premier Ted Baillieu and former Labor deputy premier John Thwaites.
Before the announcement, federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews was asked if Canberra would contribute; “The Commonwealth is not an ATM for the states. So no, this problem is of the state’s making and they need to step up and fix the problem and dig into their own pockets,”
A consumer advocate, from the Victorian Building Action Group, said the $600 million funding package would not come close to fixing the state’s cladding issues.
“The people who have already been damaged and the taxpayers who’ve had nothing to do with this are going to give this token amount,” she said.
“And on the other hand, the people who caused it and should have to give and live up to the warranty that comes with the building once again walk away scot-free.
“We need enforcement of the laws and regulations that exist, and we need penalties when people ignore those laws.”
Daniel Andrews said the state was also examining ways to recover some of the costs from people and business “who had done the wrong thing”.
This may involve introducing new laws to punish dodgy providers and so-called “phoenix companies” that only set up for one project, then shut down.
The Government also flagged a plan that would see it assume the right to sue industry on behalf of residents because class action had failed.
Of those buildings deemed to be at risk, 72 were rated as an extreme risk, 409 as a high risk and 388 considered a moderate risk. With the Government planning to pay for rectification works on only 500 buildings, many moderate-risk buildings will be likely to miss out.
The Premier said he made “no apologies” for targeting those at the highest risk and said he did not rule out more money being spent on rectification if it protected public safety.