Tighter regulation on imported building materials is under construction following an apartment fire in Melbourne’s Docklands.

Safety concerns have been raised, following a fire in a Docklands apartment tower in late 2014. The Metropolitan Fire Brigade confirmed sub-standard external cladding used in the apartment contained combustible materials, fueling the spread of fire.

The Australian building and construction industry continues to be a highly competitive market, driving the increased appeal for low cost, imported building materials. However, many low cost supplies are proving to not meet Australian quality standards and in some cases, are being issued with fraudulent quality certifications.

Master Builders Australia has looked to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), however the ACCC have expressed that the quality regulation of building products in Australia is not their responsibility, pushing the issue onto purchasers themselves.

Many large scale construction companies have been forced to send their own quality assurance teams to factories abroad, in order to monitor the manufacturing process and ensure Australian quality standards are being adhered to.

Richard Wynne, The Minister for Planning (Andrews Labour Government), led discussions on this matter at the national Building Ministers Forum held late last month. Mr Wynne has suggested the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) consider a mandatory certification scheme and a labelling program for high risk building materials.

It is hoped that the ABCB will provide some relief to the building industry and the community, when they report back to the ministers in coming months.

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