Faulty wiring sparks senate inquiry
Australia has a very sound set of building standards designed to protect people in new houses and renovated homes or commercial real estate. However, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) believes that monitoring, compliance and enforcement has not kept pace with trade and industry realities, creating a risk for consumers.
“The problem of non-genuine and non-tested building materials and components making their way into building product supply chain is growing. Regardless of where something is manufactured, it should meet Australian compliance standards,” said HIA building products spokesperson Kristin Brookfield.
The issue that prompted the HIA media released on non-conforming building products was a consumer campaign by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) around Infinity wiring. The ACCC confirms that this particular type of wiring poses no immediate threat to Australians, but could degrade quickly, creating electrical and fire hazards in the near future.
Real estate in Sydney and the rest of New South Wales has almost half of the faulty wiring identified in Australia, which was installed between 2010 and 2013 and could become a safety risk in 2016. People who purchased a new property, conducted renovations or had other work completed between 2010-13 are advised by the ACCC to get their wiring checked.
As much as the HIA applauds the move by the ACCC to keep consumers aware and safe, it says that there are better ways to prevent these risks in real estate in Australia.
“However, campaigns such as this, initiated with the safety of thousands of Australians in mind, can be avoided by safeguarding against the use of non-conforming products in the first instance,” said Ms Brookfield.
Senate inquiry into non-conforming building products
Master Builders Australia and the HIA have both welcomed news of a senate inquiry into the state of building material entering Australia.
“We welcome the recognition of the seriousness of the problem [non-conforming building products] pose to the building and construction industry, commercial and residential builders and the safety of the community,” said Wilhelm Harnisch CEO of Master Builders.
“It is vital that building products comply with Australian Standards and regulations regardless of their point of origin.”
The HIA says that the inquiry is overdue, and is glad that serious consideration of the safety of builders and consumers is being taken. Furthermore, it is a step in the right direction for making sure that manufacturers and suppliers who do the right thing are not disadvantaged.
When will the enquiry take place?
The senate referred an inquiry into non-confirming building products to the senate economics references committee on 23 June. It is expected that the committee will report back to senate by 12 October this year. Currently a closing date has not been set for submissions.
With 3,900 kilometres of cable affecting all states and territories except the Northern Territory according to the ACCC, it’s easy to see how widespread the issues at hand can be. The senate enquiry won’t only be focusing on these particular cables, as it’s the wider problem of maintaining building standards that is being considered.
All industries are concerned that faulty building products could affect them and their customers.
“We call for a ‘whole of Government’ approach to this important issue and ask all State and Federal Governments to support industry-led compliance schemes,” said Australian Steel Institute national manager, industry development and government relations, Ian Cairns.
“As minimising risk on new construction projects helps retain and attract investment and preserve the safety of onsite workers and the general public from building failures, it is in everyone’s interest to support legitimate attempts to limit the use of poor materials.”
While we wait and see what solutions the inquiry comes up with, it is important for you to make your voice heard if you have interests in real estate in Australia, whether you are a homeowner, worker or business manager.