POLITICS

Government Won't Ban Flammable Cladding Which Triggered Grenfell Tower Tragedy

"I don't think when it comes to the safety of Australians we can afford to take any risks."

06/10/2017 4:23 PM AEDT | Updated 06/10/2017 4:23 PM AEDT
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The federal government is resisting growing calls to ban the importation of flammable cladding, but Labor is not letting the issue rest.

Bill Shorten wants imports of polyethylene cladding stopped, committing Labor to that course of action if it wins government.

He said the government needed to do everything possible to protect Australians from a tragedy like the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in London.

But assistant industry minister Craig Laundy, who is meeting with state and territory ministers in Brisbane on Friday, accused Labor of being ignorant of how the industry works.

"This product is actually also made by companies in Australia so a ban at the border would do nothing about those companies," he told ABC radio.

The cladding could also be used legally in shop fronts and outdoor signage.

"You would be banning across the board something that can be used legally in certain environments."

It was already illegal to use the material on high-rise buildings and the law should be enforced, Mr Laundy said.

"Scaring people is not the answer."

But opposition industry spokesman Kim Carr said it is was wrong to say highly flammable polyethylene cladding was manufactured in Australia, when it is imported by local distributors.

"Assistant Minister Laundy is clearly out of his depth," he said.

"Each day the Turnbull government fails to respond to the widespread misuse of these dangerous products, more Australian lives are put at risk."

Mr Shorten doubled down during a visit to central Queensland on Friday.

"Keeping Australians safe from the risk of fires should be a matter which is above politics," he told reporters in Mackay.

"I honestly don't know why Mr Turnbull and the government are willing to take the risk. I don't think when it comes to the safety of Australians we can afford to take any risks."

The Property Council of Australia has backed an importation ban and audit of existing buildings, while the Queensland government will push to prohibit the PE aluminium composite panels at Friday's meeting.

Combustible cladding was blamed for the Grenfell Tower fire in June this year, which killed at least 80 people.

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