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Victoria vows to bring dodgy builders to court

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The Victorian Government has pledged to pursue “dodgy building practitioners” through the courts on behalf of owners of apartments covered in combustible cladding.

The State Government has already announced a $600 million cladding rectification program, administered by Cladding Safety Victoria. Other state governments have rejected following the Victorian model.

Today the Building Amendment (Cladding Rectification) Bill 2019 was introduced to the Victorian Parliament, including a provision enabling the state to “chase wrongdoers through the courts” in cases where it is paying for rectification costs.

“These apartment owners find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own,” Planning Minister Richard Wynne said.

“They shouldn’t have to deal with the cost and stress that court action can mean, so we’re pursuing wrongdoers on their behalf.”

However, Builders Collective President Phil Dwyer told the Government’s plan might not be as easy as it seems.

He says damages awarded over Melbourne’s 2014 Lacrosse fire are being appealed, and deciding who is to blame is highly complex.

“If the appeal is successful then we are back to square one,” he said.

“This announcement all sounds good from a consumer’s point of view but in reality it isn’t going to happen.

“Who is the responsible entity? The architect, the builder, the engineer, the surveyor?

“It’s not just about high-rise buildings – the whole system has failed.

“The Government’s job was to manage the industry and they haven’t done it. They have failed to ensure a compliant building industry. Are they going to sue themselves?

“It’s one hell of a mess and it is very difficult to know where the responsibility lies.”