National

NSW tight-lipped on $1bn cladding package

By AAP Newswire

The NSW government has put the handbrakes on calls for a $1 billion funding package to help owners replace flammable cladding on properties across the state.

More than 600 buildings in NSW have been identified as being at risk, ranging from Star Casino and the Macquarie Bank building in Sydney to suburban blocks of flats.

Australia's building ministers agreed on Thursday to pursue nationally consistent building standards as the industry faces a crisis including cladding issues and defective properties.

But federal industry minister Karen Andrews said it's up to the states and territories to pay to remove dangerous cladding.

While Victoria has already announced a $600 million package, NSW Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson refused to commit to matching the deal.

"We need to know the exact detail, it's very difficult to put a number on the rectification when you don't know what the detail is," Mr Anderson told reporters in Sydney.

As of July this year, 629 buildings were identified in NSW that could have cladding that poses a risk to occupants or firefighters in the event of a fire.

A spokesperson from Mr Anderson's office later dismissed the $1 billion requested by president of Strata Community Australia Chris Duggan.

"The suggestion that the total cost of remediation work in NSW is $1 billion is not based on facts whatsoever," he said.

"Buildings referred by Fire and Rescue NSW to local councils for further assessment will not all require remediation work ... of the buildings requiring further assessment, only 154 are residential high rise and those buildings will not necessarily all require remediation work."

If the state refuses to pay, the cost will fall on the owners of the buildings - ranging from massive corporations to mums and dads who bought their homes in good faith.

"The alternative to the government coming in and supporting, whether it be with a loan package or a subsidisation package, is that lot owners will have to dive into their mortgages, will have to either move out, sell their properties or be without a home," Mr Duggan said.

"The buck has to stop somewhere; the government has been profiteering for many years as the result of a property market that they've been at the wheel of and we think it's about time that they actually come and have some level of accountability for that."

The NSW government has also refused to make public a list of buildings with potentially flammable cladding, despite calls from Labor to do so.

However, Greens MP David Shoebridge accessed documents from the City of Sydney council - under Freedom of Information laws - that show a number of prominent Sydney buildings need their cladding partially removed.

The buildings include the Macquarie Bank building at Barangaroo, Mantra Hotel on Kent Street, The Pullman Sydney Hyde Park Hotel and The Star Casino.

"In the City of Sydney alone, there is a list of more than 340 properties that are at potential risk from flammable cladding - but no one is doing anything about it," Mr Shoebridge said in a statement.

"This is a ticking time bomb for councils and property owners alike. A number of these buildings are prominent public buildings including child care centres, student housing, shopping centres and sporting facilities - this goes well beyond private apartments and the public safety risk is obvious."