Victoria has taken another step forward in its overhaul of the state's approach to cladding, appointing Dan O’Brien as head of Cladding Safety Victoria, the agency overseeing the state's $600 million cladding rectification fund.
The announcement follows on from the final report from the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, which warned that the construction industry could “grind to a halt” if insurance concerns weren't addressed.
The report contained 37 recommendations, aiming to address the systemic issues within the legislative and regulatory framework to ensure that the underlying causes of the regulatory failure were addressed.
The establishment of Cladding Safety Victoria was one of the taskforce's key recommendations.
Victoria took a national lead announcing a $600 million into a cladding rectification fund to rectify cladding on 500 privately owned buildings.
The cladding rectification fund will be administered by a recently-formed body, which will act as a one-stop-shop agency to tackle the crisis. The new body, will oversee the process, rather than the Victorian Building Authority building industry regulator.
Premier Daniel Andrews said that the fund would foot the bill for the “full rectification” of buildings in the “most dangerous” categories.
The combustible aluminium composite panels, now the subject of two separate class actions against manufacturers and suppliers, have been used across the country since the early '90s, with Victoria recording the largest number of known private buildings clad with the material.
In June, planning minister Richard Wynne told a state parliamentary committee the number of affected buildings was well over 900. As many as 71 of those were classified as “extreme risk”, 368 as “high risk”, 342 as “moderate risk” and 150 had a “low-risk” rating.
The majority of at-risk buildings were found to be two to three storeys high, having only one exit, and inadequate fire safety measures.
“Dangerous cladding is an international problem and Victoria is leading the world in responding to it – establishing CSV to oversee landmark investment to fix hundreds of high-risk buildings across the State,” planning minister Richard Wynne said.
“Dan O’Brien is a highly experienced chief executive and has the proven skills to lead CSV as it carries out vital work to make Victorian buildings safe.”
O’Brien, a former general manager for corporate affairs at Medibank, has experience in the public and private sector, most recently as chief executive of Incolink — delivering services to Victoria’s building and construction industry.
In his new role, O’Brien will lead the CSV as it manages the funding and works with owners corporations from start to finish to make sure buildings are safe and compliant with all regulations.
O'Brien's appointment to the newly-created role comes soon after the NSW government named David Chandler as the state's new building commissioner.
Both states are attempting to resolve current and mounting problems of defects in, and combustible cladding on, residential buildings.