The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has called for a Senate Inquiry into non-conforming building products, following the launch of a consumer awareness campaign by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into faulty electrical cables.

“The news that the ACCC is launching a campaign on Infinity cables, which could have been installed in up to 40,000 properties, must surely be the catalyst for a formal Inquiry,” said HIA building products spokesperson Kristin Brookfield.

“We applaud the launch of the ACCC campaign, which is an essential public safety response.”

“However, campaigns such as this, initiated with the safety of thousands of Australians in mind, can be avoided by safeguarding against the use of non-conforming products in the first instance.”

“The problem of non-genuine and non-tested building materials and components making their way into building product supply chain is growing. Regardless of where something is manufactured, it should meet Australian compliance standards.”

“With more and more products being manufactured offshore, and increased access to these products by individuals, the need to focus on compliance has never been greater.”

“A key concern is that the evolution of compliance and enforcement in Australia has not kept pace with changes to our economy, global supply chains, and how or where products are manufactured or sourced.”

“Manufacturers who do the right thing are being disadvantaged against those fail to test and confirm that products meet Australia’s compliance standards.”

The terms of reference for a formal inquiry should include:

  1.  The extent of building product non-conformance across the Australian building and construction industry.
  2. The impact of building product non-conformance on Australia’s product supply chain, including the effect on consumers, building costs and compliance.
  3. The current regulatory framework, including any gaps in regulatory coverage.
  4. Recommendations on alternatives to improve the regulatory coverage of building product conformance, and options to enhance surveillance screening on imported building products.
  • It seems that the real impetus for the Senate Inquiry came not from the HIA, but from Senators Xenophon, Madigan and Lambie. Certainly Senators Xenophon and Madigan have been calling for action on non-compliant building products for some years now, as well as for action on non-compliant building work, and especially in the light of the massive harm to consumers as a consequence of the non-compliance of our lawless industry.

    The Senators' motivation has been to support Australian manufacturers. And also building consumers, who fund the industry and drive the economy and deserve protection; this stated in law, but never in actuality.

    Their views on consumers make them a rare breed. Consumers are ignored, voiceless, with no access to power and outcasts, excluded from every forum of influence. Regardless of owners funding the building industry, they are not considered 'stakeholders'. This is absurd! Despite paying the salaries of all the officials, consumers remain unrepresented and totally unprotected. More absurd!

    Well done, Senators. Thank you for standing up for Australians, especially we consumers who have been forcibly rendered silent and otherwise have no political support.

  • Another Senate Inquiry that will go nowhere, just as the 2010 Senate Inquiry Home Insulation Program, and 27 million dollar Royal Commission Home Insulation Program have not, AND will not thoroughly address many issues.

    From failed pink batts scheme, unprotected cabling over ceiling joists,was the root cause which killed workers and not reported in mainstream media

    Recommendations are made, but Government doesn't have to act. Just more money for the legal paternity.

    The only way any Government can be made accountable is by the Independent Senators all voting together on the issues.

    BUT alas, most Senators are 'bought off' with promises of funding to their constituents that give them a job, by the Governing Federal Party to ensure the truth is not exposed.

    Look at what Independent Nick Xenophon is doing, wanting to protect jobs with the submarines in South Australia.

    As the only Senator in this Inquiry, WILL NICK XENOPHON ensure that the truth is revealed, as potentially the majority of the panel, Liberal and Labor can quash issues raised to protect their parties financial liability, and negligence for not acting to ensure Australian Industry and consumers are protected

  • Thanks Anne for these spot on comments.

    Yes, it is true that consumers are not considered 'stakeholders' in many regulations.

    Regulations are typically underpinned by 'relevant standards', but not all Australian standards protect the public interest. I believe the new Senate Inquiry into non-conforming building products, needs to also address faulty product standards where they exist. From my own experience in giving evidence to both the 2010 Senate Inquiry & 2014 Royal Commission – Home Insulation Program, the relevant insulation standards mislead the public. Industry write standards and public input is frequently ignored.

    Significant recommendations came out of the 2010 Senate Inquiry which the public know nothing about. It advised major changes to Standards Australia, the relevant insulation standards, the building energy efficiency provisions in the Building Code of Australia, and called for independent research to identify different insulations for different climates.

    Even if major inquiries do expose failings in regulations, it all comes to nothing because frequently the media will not publish report findings. The public are rendered ignorant and helpless.