As many as 12,000 Queensland buildings could have been built with the same flammable cladding blamed for London's Grenfell Tower fire.
A year-long inquiry was set up by the state government after the 2017 Grenfell disaster – when 71 people, including two Australians, died – to determine how many buildings carry the aluminium composite panels in Queensland.
The taskforce has found that approximately 880 buildings will need further investigation with at least 70 requiring rectification work.
An additional 12,000 privately-owned buildings, including about 1,200 residential structures are currently being assessed.
Related reading: Lethal Building Cladding Banned in Victoria
Queensland's Housing and Public Works Minister, Mick de Brenni, told the ABC that while it would cost the government millions to complete rectifications, they could not put a price on safety.
“We can't put a dollar figure on the lives of Queenslanders so we'll be making sure all buildings within the scope are assessed.”
“If there are private buildings that are found to be a risk through this process, then we are prepared to legislate to require rectification if necessary,” he said.
The taskforce had also been asked to submit evidence to the Grenfell Tower inquiry in the United Kingdom.
“We are now internationally recognised as having the most sophisticated approach to dealing with combustible cladding,” he said.
A previous audit found that about 1,400 non-government buildings in Victoria possibly had aluminium composite panels with a polyethylene core or expanded polystyrene panels.
Related reading: What’s Going on with Non-Compliant Cladding?
Senior engineer and chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Dame Judith Hackitt, has come under scrutiny for her 156-page review of regulations and fire safety, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The fire was started by a faulty refrigerator on 14 June 2017 and killed 71 people.
The government-commissioned independent report has called for a "radical rethink" of the safety system.
The contents of the report have argued that an outright ban on combustible building materials would only solve one issue.
It claims that four key factors contributed to the "system failure" during renovation works: ignorance about existing regulation and guidance; indifference about public safety; lack of clarity on the responsibility of roles; and inadequate rule enforcement.
“These issues have helped to create a cultural issue across the sector, which can be described as a 'race to the bottom' caused either through ignorance, indifference, or because the system does not facilitate good practice,” said Hackitt in relation to the report.
“If people attach too much reliance upon banning activities and particular materials as being a solution to this problem it will create a false sense of security.”
Responding to the report, the Royal British Institute of Architects (RIBA) said the report was a "missed opportunity".
The debate continues on whether or not aluminium cladding is used for thermal insulation, weather proofing, or as an integral part of the fabric, fire safety and integrity of the building.
Hackitt's report claims too much focus has been placed on the faults of the cladding rather than on reviewing the system as a whole.
Just a few hours after the report was published, the UK government announced it will consider banning flammable cladding.
“I was looking at putting in place a new framework. That’s what I’ve done and that now creates the basis on which the work on the detail on the guidance, the work on the detail of the regulation can be done and there’s no reason why that can’t start now,” Hackitt said.
Earlier this week, UK prime minister Theresa May announced the government would foot the £400 million (AU$719.5 million) bill of removing and replacing dangerous cladding on existing apartment towers.