My contribution on this Bill will be relatively short.
I am making it for two main purposes.
The first is to state that Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party will be supporting the Bill. We are doing so because we think it is an important way of helping to enhance the scope and quality of the Victorian response to flammable cladding issues.
Of course, in an ideal world, we would like to see:
- more funding made available at both Federal and State level for combustible cladding rectification;
- more properties and owners qualifying for financial support for that rectification; and
- more properties each year being denuded of that cladding.
However, we do recognise there have long been (and continue to be) some enormous constraints around each of those goals. These constraints have, of course, only grown in recent months given the way that the COVID experience has decimated governments’ budgets across Australia.
The second thing that I want to express in this speech is my genuine appreciation for the ongoing professionalism, integrity and accountability of Minister Wynne and his staff in their interactions with my office on the subject of cladding.
Not only have they proactively reached out to us to offer details and briefings, and cheerfully supplied all of the information that we have sought. But, probably most impressively of all, they provided us with undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive answers to a Question on Notice that I have seen during my time in the Parliament.
That Question on Notice was, in part, about the extent of the proliferation of combustible cladding across my electorate in Northern Victoria – and I want to take this opportunity to place on the record my gratitude to the Minister and his team in view of how useful, relevant and fulsome that answer was.
Just on that … it’s worth observing, too, that many people view flammable cladding as a problem that’s largely unique to Melbourne. I would point out, though, that there are also dozens of affected buildings in our regions. In Northern Victoria’s case, there are over 50 of them.
In closing, let me reconfirm my party’s support for the Bill and again express my thanks to Government Members for introducing it.
Naturally, in focusing on flammable cladding, we’re dealing with an issue that has become a very unpleasant, costly and scary one for many people. So I sincerely hope that the changes in this Bill help to lead to long-overdue relief and closure for some of the many Victorians who continue to be so badly affected by it.