Minister strike deal on building reforms

Australia's building ministers are meeting to discuss dangerous cladding and insurance premiums.
Australia's building ministers are meeting to discuss dangerous cladding and insurance premiums.

State and federal ministers have struck an agreement to pursue nationally consistent building standards.

Federal industry minister Karen Andrews says the two tiers of government will jointly fund a task force to carry out recommendations from a recent report, which identified failures in the construction sector.

"We have brokered an agreement that there will be a nationally consistent approach to recommendations of the report," Ms Andrews told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

"Our intention this morning is to meet with industry, key stakeholders, to discuss the implementation of the report.

"[And] also to talk about other issues - including insurance - professional indemnity and building insurance."

Ms Andrews had offered to fund a similar task force in February, but the states rejected it.

Property Council CEO Ken Morrison was among the industry leaders crying out for a nationally consistent approach.

"Let's have a consistent approach to this around the country. Let's not just have a single-issue solution, because that won't cut it," Mr Morrison said.

"Let's not have state by state, go-it-alone solutions, because that won't cut it.

"And let's not walk out of here with state and federal governments do a normal blame-game scenario because that won't cut it either."

The meeting of ministers comes after Australia's five largest industry groups demanded urgent action on the nation's "patchy and inconsistent" building rules.

"Industry is concerned that the lack of consistent or coordinated action by governments ... not only threatens many thousands of on-site jobs but also undermines public confidence in the industry as a whole," Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox told AAP.

"The issues confronting the ministers relate to the need to maintain public confidence in the sustainability of Australia's fourth-largest industry."

The construction industry has called for better enforcement of rules so that cowboy operators are held to account.

It has also issued warnings the industry is at risk of falling apart over insurance companies offering private building certifiers coverage with exclusions for dangerous materials such as cladding.

Australian Associated Press