The NSW government’s decision not to release the identities of the 444 buildings in the state that have potentially deadly flammable cladding may have a more political side than questionable fears of terrorism.
The list of 444 buildings across NSW clad in potentially flammable material has been released to the NSW Parliament, according to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald.
However, the list will not be released to the public after the government decided it presented a security and safety risk, as it increased the possibility of arson and terrorism
The government also said its public release could hurt property owners, potentially mislead the public and breach expectations of confidentiality.
There is another possible concern for the government. If the list revealed several buildings had been constructed by a handful of high-profile developers, pressure would mount on the state government to seek compensation regardless of what current law says.
As it stands, only the apartment owners in affected building more than six years old are legally obliged to pay for the removal and replacement of the dangerous cladding.
But if the names of one or two prominent developers came up, especially involving supporters past and present, the government could reasonably be asked why they weren’t being pressured to fix the problems they had created.
According to the SMH story, Greens MLC David Shoebridge has been pursuing the release of the register, saying public pressure is necessary to encourage building owners and the government to quickly replace the cladding in both apartment and office blocks.
“Especially given how tardy the NSW government response has been, public pressure from tenants and occupiers is going to be essential to have a rapid response,” he said.
“There remain hundreds of buildings at significant risk almost two and a half years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.”
However, so far there has been no recognition that flawed policy by successive governments has led to the situation where apartment owners are facing bills of tens of thousands of dollars to replace cladding that should never have been there in the first place.
Meanwhile, the presence of buildings on the list will have little or no effect on their market values – basic strata searches by potential purchasers would reveal that apartments are under a cladding cloud anyway.