Construction standards in NSW need reform

Reforms are being pushed for construction standards in NSW, following the recent Mascot Towers incident in Sydney.

Hundreds of residents were frantically evacuated from the Sydney apartment complex when cracks appeared in the primary support structure and facade masonry of the 122-unit building. According to media reports the owners are about to be hit with a million-dollar emergency repairs levy, that is predicted to increase to $5.5 million by the time all the repair works are completed on the troubled towers.

Jonathan Russell, National Manager for Public Affairs at Engineers Australia, said, “The Mascot Towers situation is further evidence that we need changes in the building and construction sector. NSW has been slow to move, but it is not too late if we start now.”

The construction industry has been underscrutiny after a similar incident at the Opal Towers in Sydney’s west. Glenn Ross, CEO MECON Insurance, said, “The incidents at Mascot and Opal Towers will only affect the brokers and insurers involved. However, these events, combined with the current lack of effective controls, influencing all levels of construction, is reflected in the hardening insurance market and is impacting brokers and insurers alike.”

Earlier this year, the NSW Government has also introduced new requirements for residential and other buildings that have external combustible cladding after multiple tragic incidents worldwide involving non-compliant cladding.

Russel stressed that it shouldn’t take a crisis for government to act in the interests of community safety and consumer protection.

Ross explains that the construction quality in the state is a problem, the NSW Government has commissioned reports in the past regarding how construction standards can be improved and has also met with concerned professional groups who have proposed remedial measures and/or advocated the adoption of the report commissioned by the ex-treasurer, Michael Lambert.