Australian building regulations will be examined by a Senate committee after the deadly London residential tower fire.

The high-rise inferno has also prompted Australian regulators to contact their UK counterparts conducting the investigations.

At least 58 people died in the Grenfell Tower blaze that may have been fuelled by the same flammable cladding found to be responsible for the Lacrosse apartment tower fire in Melbourne three years ago.

“I have no doubt that unless we make changes to our regulation and supervision of cladding, it’s not a matter of if, but when we might see some terrible fire,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said in Canberra on Monday.

Labor senator Chris Ketter, who chairs the Senate economics committee, said he will direct the committee to look at national regulations.

“We see it as being a timely reminder that we as parliamentarians should be doing everything we possibly can to ensure that that never happens,” he said.

After the Lacrosse fire, building regulations were examined in November 2015 but Senator Ketter said he was concerned about the rate of progress.

“This is an example of the Senate again seeking to shine a light on this issue to ensure that this terrible situation doesn’t occur in Australia,” he said.

“There’s always the possibility that things could slip through the cracks here.”

The committee hopes to hold public hearings within the next month, bringing in experts, the building construction board and unions to examine the issue.

Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon supported calls for further review and said there needed to be a national audit of buildings across the country.

“The London tragedy is more than just a wake-up call,” he said in Canberra.

“There are now no excuses for any government at a local, state or federal level not to do everything possible to ensure the safety of the occupants and visitors to those buildings.”

The prime minister will write to premiers and chief ministers seeking their commitment to enforcing building regulations and addressing non-compliance.

Cabinet minister Anthony Sinodinos said the government would seek to expand the Senate inquiry to investigate state and territory regulations.

“We have taken a leadership role in driving a national effort to strengthen regulations and compliance with regulations but more work needs to be done,” he told senators on Monday.

  • Surprised that no one is talking about our National Construction Code and the gaps in the Fire Resistance section ( Part C ) which is ambiguous in relation to Non Structural exterior cladding. There's a whole team of officials sitting in Canberra , who in conjunction with State officials , could rectify this loophole immediately, yet 3 years after Lacrosse, Politicians and numerous officials are talking about "imported Building products" as being the culprit. That's just a red herring because if the NCC clearly stated all external claddings need to be fire proof/resistant, we wouldn't be in this mess! Obviously it wont solve all of our existing issues but should provide a clear path for new construction . — Building Surveyor/ Engineer

  • Many high rise buildings in Australia are going to cost more to take away than they cost to build. I can see buildings abandoned like mines are with the Government and tax payers left to clean up. The number of high rise apartment buildings is not justified in Australia,. If we had able Governments and a real Public Service few developments would be much above six levels.
    Bad Governments are all about waste and poverty. Buildings burning is what used to happen in Asia and South America.
    Billions wasted and what is going to be handed to the next generation is debt.
    We used to be able to get British technicians to help us do our big projects but it now looks like they need help as well.

  • Sensational news. There has been outcry since the Lacroose fire, Peter Rau, a respected fire-fighter comes out and refutes Minister Wynne and Prue Digby's assertion that everyone in Melbourne is safe becasue they say so. Yes we need a senate committee. Yes we need a new Planning Minister. Yes we need to flush out the garbage aka VBA and start over. Yes the Builders and Developers are running because it is going to cost. We need an Authority to shut the Lawyers out and make those empowered do their job. They have for years been taking wages from taxpayers whilst lying to the public. These individuals should be dealt with as any other criminal. Its about time we had leaders doing their job. The public should not be left with the bill to cleanup this mess. Caveats on Builders and developers will send a clear message that there is only one way, the right way.

  • Hans Tracksdorf – you are spot on. It would be so easy for the ABCB to clear this up via the BCA, however little or nothing is happening. Every day I see current high rise construction sites with ACP cladding being installed. what we have seen is the tip of the iceberg.