Greens leader and ACT minister Shane Rattenbury has revealed that an apartment complex in which he owns a unit contains flammable cladding.
Mr Rattenbury learned of the apparent defects in late November, when he was provided with an engineer's report, commissioned by the building's owners corporation, which found the complex contained composite aluminum cladding.
He described cladding as a "very serious issue", noting that the product identified on the building was known to be "highly combustible".
He has declared the report's findings as a potential of conflict of interest, recognising that he could stand to benefit financially if the ACT government - in which he is a senior minister - adopts a policy to pay for rectification work.
He has vowed to excuse himself from all cabinet debate on the government's response to the issue of flammable cladding on private buildings.
Mr Rattenbury in 2015 bought investment properties at two inner-city apartment complexes; Astin, at the corner of Northbourne Avenue and Ipima Street in Braddon, and Mayfair Apartments on West Row, in the city.
This is going to be a difficult issue to resolve. It's potentially going to be an expensive issue to resolve. We need to make sure that the government is as free as possible to make whatever decision it needs to make.Greens leader Shane Rattenbury
He did not specify which of the two complexes were found to contain combustible cladding in an update to his MLA register of interests on December 6, and declined to name the affected building when asked last week by The Canberra Times.
However, Mayfair owners corporation chairman David Randles confirmed that an engineer's report, prepared for owners in September 2018, found the Morris Property Group's city complex did not contain any combustible cladding.
The Canberra Times sought comment from the developer behind the Astin complex but did not receive a response. The nine-storey complex was completed in 2013 and includes 149 units.
The Canberra Times has seen an extract of the engineer's report on Mayfair, but has not seen a copy of the report on Astin. It is unclear how much of the building's exterior contains potentially flammable material.
Mr Rattenbury did not believe he currently had a conflict of interest, but felt compelled to declare the report's findings as he anticipated that cabinet would have to "turn its mind' to the government's response to flammable cladding on private buildings in the near future.
The ACT government has not signalled any intention to pay for cladding rectification work on private buildings, as the Victorian government is doing.
However, Minister for Building Quality Improvement Gordon Ramsay announced on December 18 - 12 days after Mr Rattenbury made the disclosure on his register of interests - that it would "start work on identifying, where possible, the use of potentially combustible cladding on private buildings in the ACT".
Mr Ramsay had previously rejected calls for an audit of private buildings, including from Mr Rattenbury's ACT Greens colleague, Caroline Le Couteur.
Ms Le Couteur first made those calls in September, two months before Mr Rattenbury received the engineer's report. There is no suggestion that her advocacy was based on her party leader's circumstances.
Mr Rattenbury last week said cabinet had been briefed on the government's audit of cladding on territory-owned buildings, and there had been a "quite broad discussion" about its approach to private buildings.
However, he said cabinet had not discussed the government's specific policy position on privately owned buildings since he had became aware of problems at his complex in late November.
"My starting presumption is that if cabinet is considering this matter, I will step out of cabinet," he said.
"I think that given the financial consequences of any policy decision, it is best that I withdraw from those discussions. I think that it's important that the government is able to take the decisions that it needs to take without any suggestion of undue influence and conflict of interest.
"This is going to be a difficult issue to resolve. It's potentially going to be an expensive issue to resolve. We need to make sure that the government is as free as possible to make whatever decision it needs to make."
Mr Rattenbury said the engineer's report was provided to all apartment owners, and was discussed at the owners corporation's annual general meeting.
At the meeting, the executive committee told owners that they had written to the ACT government to "seek advice", according to Mr Rattenbury.
He said he had no input in the letter, did not know what it contained and had not asked members of the executive committee about it.
He was uncomfortable knowing that the disclosure of the potential conflict of interest might affect other apartment owners.
"I feel a dilemma around the fact that ... I have a duty to disclose this publicly and they have their right to privacy," he said.
"I think that is a tricky situation."