THE number of remaining buildings on the Mornington Peninsula clad with combustible aluminium should be public knowledge in August.
Mornington Peninsula Shire in May directed its officers to “update our community on the situation regarding combustible cladding of buildings”.
Officers said they could provide councillors with “a brief update” by 19 July.
Concerns worldwide about combustible aluminium being used in multi-storey buildings were raised in June 2017 when 72 people died when London’s 20-storey Grenfell Tower caught fire. In March 2019, a cigarette was blamed for a blaze in Melbourne’s Neo200 building that that jumped five storeys.
However, in January 2021 the shire was continuing its long held policy of not identifying aluminium-clad buildings on the peninsula uncovered in a state-wide audit by the Victorian Building Authority (“Fire risks clad in secrecy” The News 1/2/21).
At that time, instead of calling on its own staff to report on the progress of making the buildings safe, councillors agreed to then mayor Cr Despi O’Connor telling the state government that its building surveyor, not the shire’s, should be responsible for ordering buildings to be repaired or even evacuated.
Wary of the legal implications since 2019, the shire made few statements regarding combustible cladding.
At that time Cr David Gill said he “just wanted to know if buildings identified with aluminium cladding on the peninsula have been fixed”.
At the 13 May public meeting Cr Gill succeeded in getting unanimous support from his colleagues in calling for “a report to council by August 2022 to update our community on the situation regarding combustible cladding of buildings” on the peninsula.
In January 2021, Cr Gill said combustible cladding was “very controversial” on the peninsula but “our community has been kept ignorant about the facts”.
“The state government has stopped open discussion about government locations and even some important non-government buildings. There has been an intent to prevent public awareness by using building regulations to make disclosure illegal.”