MPs demand urgent action to prevent high-rise tragedies

28 September 2017

The Shadow Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Yasmin Catley and local MP Anoulack Chanthivong are calling on the Berejiklian Government to take urgent action in identifying apartment complexes in south-west Sydney that could contain flammable aluminium cladding.

Such cladding was the cause of the tragic Grenfell Tower inferno in London in June which killed 80 people.

The increasing number of high-rise apartments dotting the skyline across south-west Sydney was cause for immediate concern, the MPs said. Rapid population growth, coupled with higher density living and overdevelopment, meant risk factors were more prevalent than ever before.

Fuelling concerns that lives would be lost in the event of a repeat of the Grenfell Tower disaster here was the fact that a specialised aerial firefighting truck – the Bronto – was removed from St Andrews fire station last year. The Bronto is capable of reaching 37m or up to six floors of an apartment building.

The Labor MPs said the Government had been sitting on its hands for more than two years on this potentially lethal problem across Sydney, including the south-west – which had witnessed a high-rise boom in recent years.

Only recently, the Government claimed there were at least 1000 buildings in NSW that contained flammable aluminium products. Despite the seriousness of the issue, the Government continued to drag its feet – prompting Labor to take its call for action to the suburbs.

Secrets documents obtained by the Opposition show that in 2015 the Government was concerned that any intervention could create red tape and stifle innovation.

The Government had also refused to release a number of documents on the grounds of media interest and terrorism. The Government was covering up its tracks after years of inaction, which was putting local lives at risk with no idea of where the cladding was and how to fix it.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Yasmin Catley

“The Berejiklian Government should have known about this issue for more than two years.

“It has taken the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower inferno in London to get them to do anything.

“We still don’t know where these buildings are, and who will pick up the bill to make sure they are safe.

Quotes attributable to Anoulack Chanthivong MP

“South-west Sydney has witnessed a high-rise boom in recent years. We need to get to the bottom of this cladding issue to ensure any dangerous or illegal material is identified and replaced as quickly as possible.

“The Berejiklian Government is content to let south-west Sydney do more than its fair share of meeting Sydney’s housing demand and take billions of dollars of stamp duty in return, yet doesn’t care about people’s safety. It’s appalling!

“People may be living in potential death traps, but this Government doesn’t have the decency to let people know the size of the problem, where it is, and what they are going to do about it.

“I call on the Government to fix the cladding issue urgently and reinstate the Bronto firefighting truck to St Andrews Fire Station as a priority.”