Time ticking on cladding disaster: Shorten


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has threatened to make building cladding a political issue after being told by frontline workers it is only a matter of time before Australia has a high-rise fire disaster.

Australian building regulations will be examined by a Senate committee after the deadly London residential tower fire, which may have been fuelled by the same flammable cladding responsible for a Melbourne blaze three years ago.

"I think we have been lucky in the past but I just wonder when our luck runs out," Mr Shorten said in Brisbane on Friday.

The deaths of 80 people in the Grenfell Tower blaze was a wake-up call to Australia that the country was not immune.

"We have too many unlicensed and unqualified people ticking boxes and trying to pretend we have a safe system," he said.

"If the government won't do enough and do it quickly enough, we will make this an issue. One person's death is one too many."

Mr Shorten sees problems not only with the use of "fly-by-nighters" and "quick-and-dirty operators" but also with checks on imported materials and inconsistencies with auditing and inspections.

"There is now a sufficient issue for Australian governments at all levels to work together, not to hold another meeting but to get on and lift the standards," he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote to the premiers and chief ministers earlier in June asking them to review the use of cladding after the devastating London fire.

He asked state and territory leaders to set out the extent of their use of combustible cladding products and actions each were taking to ensure compliance with building codes.