POLITICS

Bill Shorten: 'I Don’t Want To See Grenfell Occur In Australia'

Labor wants an urgent inquiry into cheap combustible cladding products.

18/06/2017 11:52 PM AEST | Updated 18/06/2017 11:52 PM AEST

CANBERRA -- As officials continue the grim task of going through the charred remains of the Grenfell tower in west London, Labor Leader Bill Shorten wants a federal public inquiry to see if there are similar death traps in Australia and prevent any possibility of a local deadly inferno.

Cheap combustible cladding - reportedly polyethylene-cored tiles - has been quickly blamed for the fast, overwhelming fire which consumed the 24-storey London building last week and killed and injured scores of residents. Many more people are missing and authorities warn not all will ever be identified.

The tile manufacturer had advised customers against using them in high-rise buildings. A 2016 brochure indicates "Reynobond tiles" are suitable only for buildings up to 10 metres in height.

"This is a shocking tragedy. I don't want to see a similar tragedy occur here," Bill Shorten said.

"These tragedies must be prevented from occurring."

The New South Wales Government has already flagged tougher regulations on the use of "risky" combustible cladding, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealing the state's building safety measures were being reconsidered "with a sense of urgency".

She pointed to the need to reconsider federal laws relating to the building industry, and on Monday, Labor will attempt to start the ball rolling by asking the current Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into non-conforming building products to look urgently at what just has happened in the Grenfell disaster.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is on the committee and he's already called for an audit of Australian apartments to search for similar cheap combustible cladding.

The Committee is scheduled to report on non-conforming building products in October.

The Labor Chair of the References Committee, Senator Chris Ketter, wants the Turnbull Government to "step up" over building safety standards, as it is responsible for the National Building Code.

"The public needs to know what is being done to prevent cladding products being used in buildings around Australia in situations that they are not designed for," Ketter said.

In light of Grenfell, Ketter said the inquiry should urgently hear from the Australian Building Codes Board, state fire services and the Building Ministers' Forum Senior Offices Group which is developing a national strategy to respond to issues of non-conforming building products, including cladding.

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