ACT News


Combustible aluminium cladding is 'widely used' in Canberra

The ACT government has confirmed flammable cladding similar to that at the centre of a London tower blaze is widely used in Canberra buildings.

It is feared as many as 100 people may have been killed after Grenfell Tower in West London burst into flames on Wednesday, with seventeen people already confirmed dead.

Flammable aluminium composite panels fitted to the outside of the building are widely suspected to have contributed to the inferno.

A similar type of panel has been blamed for a fire that devastated the Lacrosse apartment block in Melbourne's docklands in 2014.

A spokesman for territory Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said flammable aluminium products were "widely used" throughout Canberra, but stressed there was nothing illegal about this.

"The product is widely used in advertising signs, architectural features and building cladding for both residential and non-residential buildings," the spokesman said.


"Aluminium composite panels are available for people to undertake DIY jobs in their own homes, which makes it difficult to put a number on how many buildings in the ACT contain the material."

The National Construction Code governs when the material can and cannot be used, the spokesman added.

"The NCC does not single out these particular products, but rather requires that certain building elements, such as claddings, avoid the spread of fire in relevant circumstances – such as in high-rise buildings," he said.

"Combustible products are not generally permitted to be used for medium to high-rise building cladding and buildings close to neighbouring land boundaries or close to other buildings," he added.

It is understood the ACT government is keeping an eye on the investigation into the London fire and how any findings might relate to territory building standards.

The executive director of Master Builders ACT, Kirk Coningham, said the territory typically had very strong building regulations in place to prevent fires.

However, there were risks with the import of "counterfeit" building materials that claimed to be safe when they were not, he said.

"I think that the ACT is well served for a few reasons. One is that we don't have a whole lot of residential stock anyway," Mr Coningham said.

"And the modern buildings are controlled by a very strong fire code. But the weakness in our systems is the use of non-conforming products.

"In the ACT it's against the law for a developer to require a building to use such a product. There is legislation in place to control this.

"But the risk to the system is when these products are falsely labelled."

State and territory building ministers are currently involved in a joint piece of work to investigate the regulation of non-conforming products, for example aluminium cladding that claims to be fire-resistant when it is not.

Rather than singling out cladding materials, the work will look at all counterfeit construction products.

"The safety of Canberrans whether they are at work or at home is always the utmost priority for the government," a spokesman for Mick Gentleman said.

"The minister can assure Canberrans that buildings that comply with the NCC provide minimal risk to occupants, and that Canberra building standards require a high level of safety."