After a pre-cast concrete panel cracked in Opal Tower, NSW says it will “throw the book” at dodgy certifiers. Last week, after residents heard a loud cracking noise in the Opal Tower on Christmas Eve, they were originally evacuated, then allowed to return. But then the residences were evacuated again on Thursday, so a “comprehensive investigation” could be conducted. The New South Wales State government has begun its own investigation into the crack. Two university engineering professors have been asked to write a report on the issue, which will be made public.
The Berejiklian government has been feeling pressure to salve fears over buildings which have sprung up in the Sydney area in recent years.
In a media statement, Matt Kean, NSW Minister for Better Regulation said, “If you’re a certifier who’s done the wrong thing, I will find you and I will throw the book at you.” “I will rub you out of the industry if you’re found to be doing the wrong thing.” The government plans to be auditing 25 to 30 percent of certification work every year.
Certifiers who are found to be corrupt, or who have negligently signed off on a building which is not structurally sound, will be banned from the industry. If certifiers are found to have breached industry code of conduct regarding building quality will be prevented from working on any new strata developments for 12 months. Mr Kean said the Opal Tower is not the specific reason for the crackdown.
“There’s an investigation going on, I want to wait until we get the results of that investigation, but what it has highlighted is further community concerns about certification in NSW.
“Certification is one piece of the puzzle here, but there are many other parts of the building industry where we need to shine a light on what’s been going on.
“I want to make sure we do whatever is possible to give the public confidence that the buildings that they are living in across Sydney are safe.”
Meanwhile, the NSW Opposition government said it will be introducing legislation to strengthen building regulations.
Opposition leader Michael Daley said he would also be setting up a single agency to “streamline” accountability in the industry.
“Labor’s reforms are designed to protect the home buyer from some of the unscrupulous practices that have been allowed to take root and grow in the industry.” He also said that if Opposition wins in next year’s election, he would prevent developers from choosing their own certifier.
Sydney Independent MP Alex Greenwich called for a commission of inquiry into apartment building defects.
The investigation into the Opal incident is expected to take at least 4 more days.
Residents are being housed at hotels around the city, and are being compensated for the inconvenience of being out of the building.