Members Statement: Building industry regulation

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I rise to call on the government to establish a fund to pay for the immediate replacement of dangerous cladding and other safety measures on apartment buildings found to have non-compliant, flammable cladding. Many residents in the Prahran electorate have raised this serious issue with me. Some have bought units in apartment buildings in good faith and are now being left in the lurch, faced with massive costs of tens of thousands of dollars to replace cladding, install safety measures or alternatively face eviction. What was for some people their dream home is now turning into a nightmare.

This has come about because of a failure of regulation, of compliance and of enforcement. I would point to the privatisation of building surveyors as one of the key causes. What was a public function, carried out in the public interest through local government, was privatised many years ago now, resulting in dodgy buildings being signed off on — yet another example of the failure of privatisation and the neo-liberal ideology that underpins it.

The government now needs to step up, step in and immediately fix these buildings and use its resources to recover the funds from those responsible, not subject owners to a messy and complicated legal process. This will give peace of mind to home owners who otherwise face massive bills that they may or may not be able to afford, as well as to renters who could face eviction and uncertainty about the safety and security of their tenancy. I urge the government to act.