The Centre Alliance party will reintroduce a Senate bill in the next sitting week to ban the importation of flammable cladding, a move that one Coalition senator has warned could "destroy thousands of small businesses, particularly those in the signage industry.”
|Building cladding made from aluminium composite panels|
Senator Rex Patrick, Centre Alliance
Former party leader Nick Xenophon introduced a bill to ban the importation of ACM cladding in the last parliament but it lapsed at the election. Centre Alliance [formerly Nick Xenophon Team] senator Rex Patrick now says he will reintroduce the bill as soon as possible.
The Senate will next meet from 9 to 19 September 2019.
“Rex Patrick said he will reintroduce the bill in the next sitting week, a move seized on by Labor’s Brendan O’Connor, who accused the government of “failing to take responsibility” for building products “putting the public at risk," reports Guardian Australia’s Paul Karp. "Together, Centre Alliance, Labor, which is yet to declare its final position, and the Greens, which support a ban, could pass a Senate bill with One Nation support.”
Last month, Queensland’s Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni called on the Commonwealth Government to ‘protect Australians’ and introduce an importation ban on all aluminium composite panels with a PE core, echoing a policy statement by Labor’s Kim Carr prior to the federal election.
“Both de Brenni’s and Carr’s statements ignore the fact that the sign industry is a big user of ACP PE material, lawfully and without danger to the public,” Wide Format Online publisher Andy McCourt wrote at the time.
When the bill was debated in the Senate in February 2018, Coalition senator Jane Hume called the ban a “significant overreaction” that would destroy thousands of small businesses, particularly those in the signage industry, and could be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules.
A spokesperson for industry minister Karen Andrews said: “An import ban would have unintended consequences for Australian businesses that use these panels for legitimate and safe purposes, such as signage, wrapping ATMs and road barriers.”
An industry insider noted: “At least the pollies are acknowledging the sign industry now, but a total ban is disingenuous. Ban the fraudulently marked stuff from China, yes. Ban the bent builders and certifiers who passed the PE-cored stuff for tall building use, yes. But a carte blanche ban on importation may as well be accompanied by a ban on wood imports.”