An additional 19 properties have been added to a secret list of NSW buildings potentially clad with dangerous flammable material.
Notified in November of 444 buildings that featured potentially flammable cladding, the state government took legal steps to keep the list under wraps citing security advice from police and fire authorities.
However Fire and Rescue NSW assistant commissioner Mark Whybro told parliament’s building standards inquiry on Wednesday the number had climbed to 463. Of them, 271 were four stories or higher.
“The public release of information identifying buildings as more vulnerable than other buildings is not something that Fire and Rescue NSW supports,” he told MPs.
“In the interests of public safety it should be kept tightly controlled.”
Deputy police commissioner and counter terrorism boss Dave Hudson said while there is no direct terror threat hanging over the buildings, “miscreants” could target structures with flammable cladding.
“Quite recently we were asked for advice as to whether we would support the publication of premises identified as hazardous,” he told the inquiry.
“We had objections based on security concerns and at this stage we stand by that advice.”
Local Government NSW president Linda Scott testified in November that holding back the list was a public safety issue.
“It is important from a public safety point of view that the public knows where these risks are and that mitigating actions are taken to resolve the risk,” she said at the time.
NSW unit owners on Wednesday told the inquiry they were stressed about the cost and difficulty of replacing flammable cladding.
Property consultant and apartment owner Chris Rumore said the government had not taken appropriate responsibility for the cladding crisis.
“We do have flammable cladding (at our apartments) and it’s caused great stress. The cost will be $5 million-plus,” he said.
Mr Rumore said a lack of clear guidelines had hamstrung repair works and the government needed to give assurances on replacement cladding products.
“We’ve spent hundreds of hours with eight different consultants to find safe replacement cladding,” he said.
“We need guidelines on what is allowed and for the government to give assurances products won’t be retrospectively banned.”
Ravendra Mawjee, who lives in a small unit with flammable cladding, says the replacement process has proven confusing and complex.
“That’s our biggest concern – if we replace our cladding with a new product what guarantees that the product will stay compliant?” Ms Mawjee said.