Victoria has announced the introduction of Cladding Safety Victoria which is tasked with overseeing a $600 million program to fix residential buildings with 'high risk' combustible cladding.

Earlier this week, Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Planning Richard Wynne announced the introduction of a new agency, Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV).

At the Corpolinx Fire Safety & Cladding Summit this morning, the Hon Ted Baillieu, Co-Chair of the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, explained that:

  • The grants will fund rectification works on buildings found to have 'high-risk' cladding and rectification will be prioritised on a 'risk' basis,
  • CSV will assist and guide owners corporations through the rectification of about 500 residential buildings expected to take place over a five year period,
  • Funding will not be available for the rectification of industrial or commercial buildings,
  • The Government will fund half of the rectification works, with the additional $300 million intended to be raised over the next five years via changes to the building permit levy,
  • An initial pilot will be immediately commenced for 15 buildings, as a learning process,
  • CSV will contact the most at risk owners corporations and property owners shortly.

Further insight as to how CSV may operate can be found in the Victorian Cladding Taskforce Report from the Co-Chairs, also issued this week. This report recommends that:

  • Rectification should bring buildings down to an acceptable level of risk,
  • Rectification will need to be building specific and could range from full removal and replacement to no rectification needed if a building is deemed acceptable risk,
  • The Victorian Government should seek Federal funding for the CSV program,
  • The Victorian Government should implement a process to enable recovery of the cost of rectification from responsible parties, including taking a transfer of owners’ rights,
  • The Victorian Government should negotiate with insurers to make a substantial contribution to the cost of rectification,
  • If rectification is to be achieved through partial removal and replacement and a performance solution, the solution should be 'blessed' by the Building Appeals Board.

This week's announcement adds to what has already been an eventful start to the financial year for the Victorian building industry, in light of the following announcements: the Victorian Building Authority's appointment of a new State Building Surveyor and the Government's Ministerial Order permitting building surveyors and inspectors to hold professional indemnity insurance containing exclusions for non-compliant external wall cladding.