ALUMINIUM cladding is lightweight, corrosion resistant and contains a plastic core. It is commonly used as facades on the exterior of buildings. It is a problem and should be considered as a prohibited import.
The issue of combustible cladding has been in the news from as early as 2014. The Lacrosse building in Melbourne’s Docklands (which had aluminium cladding) had a fire in 2014 which saw $2m worth of damage and 500 people evacuated.
On 14 June 2017, 72 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire in the United Kingdom. The tower had been refurbished in 2015-2016 with aluminium cladding.
Within a week of the Grenfell Tower fire, Auckland Council identified 90 buildings of interest with combustible cladding. One year later, that number was increased to 5000 buildings.
In June 2017, it was reported that New South Wales had as many as 2500 buildings with combustible cladding.
The Federal Government introduced the Customs Amendment (Safer Cladding) Bill 2017. This Bill was designed to amend the Customs Act 1901 and to add the polyethylene core aluminium composite panels to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956.
It is now August 2019 and this Bill has not been passed nor have the goods been classified as prohibited imports.
As customs brokers, we customs clear imports that enter the country. We see the trends of commodities first hand. If the Government does not classify the goods as prohibited imports, the goods are duty and GST paid and then consumed within the market place. The goods continue to enter Australia under classification 7610.
In July 2019, the Prime Minister stated that the cladding issue is a state government issue. The government through its operational arm the Australian Border Force control goods which enter the country. If the goods are not classified as prohibited imports by the government, the Australian Border Force cannot stop the items entering the country and the state governments cannot stop the issue from being exacerbated. The Federal government needs to assist the state governments on this matter.
* Peter McRae is the founder and CEO of Platinum Freight Management