It is illegal for any supplier to provide a product in trade or commerce which is non-compliant – so why is this happening?
The recent media frenzy about a fire in an apartment building has cast the spotlight not only on the inferior insulation cladding used, but it would seem it also exposed the fact that this very same inferior and very dangerous product is widely known and used in the industry.
Unfortunately for Australian home owners, the reality is that not only will nothing happen to those responsible throughout the supply chain regarding this substandard product in this matter. This product (albeit under a different brand name) will still find its way into the Australian building industry because it is cheap - very, very cheap.
Have a look at products and work methods that have killed, maimed and injured Australians over the last 20 years, and then find one single individual who was held criminally responsible for them. Sadly, your search will prove fruitless, because no single person has ever been held responsible.
Remember the pink batts affair? Four young people (workers) were killed installing a product where the installation risks were well known and where workers had previously been electrocuted, yet Kevin Rudd and his cohort endured a brief examination before the formal enquiry into the matter, and nothing more.
Why is it left to the media to name and shame the developers or the builders, as they appear to be doing with Mr Schwartz? Does The Australian (which seems to be leading the pack) believe that by naming, people will have a change of mind and conscience and admit to installing substandard materials? Does the media think that by naming and shaming people will now purposefully avoid doing business with certain individuals? What rubbish! Buildings should not be built with substandard products, period.
Where is Worksafe or the equivalent regulator? The new model occupational safety legislation in all states and territories with the exception of Victoria and Western Australia clearly allows for criminal prosecutions with fairly onerous goal-time attached, yet no single person has ever been convicted under this legislation.
To my mind, the real issue and major contributing factor to this dangerous state of play is: why did Customs even allow substandard material into the country? Surely this is where Australia has the opportunity to actually stop this vile trade of life threatening products: at point of entry. If a building product has an Australian Standard of quality manufacture attached to it, and an imported product does not have the Standards Australia approval on it, then it does not gain entry, period!
Maybe we need Minister Scott Morrison back in his old portfolio to stop the boats filled with substandard, life-threatening building products. Maybe a few tow backs to port of origin, or simply forbidding any discharge of cargo onto our wharves without the proper quality assurance, would do the trick.
I was going to suggest impounding the products as a deterrent, but then remembered how common it is for such issues to disappear by stealth as soon as the media spotlight is off them, so I’ll keep this suggestion out of the solution.
Maybe the media should start a concerted and unified effort to stop the boats filled with substandard building products and save lives.
As always, risk safely.