We welcome today’s announcement by the Victorian government of a $600 million package to support cladding rectification works, to be overseen by a new agency, Cladding Safety Victoria, following a list of recommendations in the Victorian Cladding Taskforce’s final report.

The $600 million will include $300 million provided by the Victorian government, to be directed at rectification of the buildings deemed as representing the highest-risk category. The remaining balance of $300 million would be raised over five years in the form of a levy for building permits valued at $800 thousand or above. This levy will take effect on 1 January 2020. However, in the meantime the state government has requested the Commonwealth to make a contribution, potentially removing the need to implement the levy. We hope that the federal government will offer their support to solving this nationwide problem.

While we are pleased that the state government is directing money to addressing the cladding issue, we are also looking at how the levy could affect the cost of new construction in Victoria.

This announcement follows the Victorian government’s statement last week that they plan to allow a set of exclusions on non-compliant uses of cladding, intended to allow building surveyors to continue practicing in the midst of the current professional indemnity insurance crisis.

However, Master Builders Victoria continues to emphasise that this measure is not a permanent solution, but a necessary, temporary step to allow building and construction activity to continue until a more comprehensive solution can be implemented at a national level.

Allowing exclusions is a necessary step, but it is no silver bullet. Surveyors and consumers may be less protected as a result, and a comprehensive approach is necessary to bring more insurers back into the market.

Master Builders Victoria has advocated consistently and urgently for a whole-of-industry solution.  As the leading voice for the building and construction industry, we pledge to work collaboratively with all authorities working toward a result that dispenses with finger-pointing and the assignment of blame and, instead, develops a solution involving every stakeholder in the building and construction process.

We request that the state and federal governments work together to develop a comprehensive, nation-wide solution. It is important to maintain public confidence that the building and construction industry implements standards that protect the interests of those who own, work, live, or conduct their business in Australian buildings.

Due to its urgency, this will be the major topic of discussion at the next meeting of the Building Ministers’ Forum on 18 July. We will keep you updated.