MORE than a decade before the deadly Grenfell tower fire in London, Australian suppliers of aluminium composite cladding knew the product they were selling with a polyethylene (PE) core was highly flammable.
Despite more fire-resistant cladding being widely available in Europe and the USA, the cheaper PE core cladding continued to be installed on medium and high-rise buildings in Australia until 2013.
A Four Corners investigation has revealed that some international manufacturers and their Australian suppliers were aware of the risks associated with using PE cladding on high-rise buildings, but they continued to import it because Australia's lax and ambiguous building standards allowed it.
Australia - in the grip of a once-in-a-generation building boom - now has a large legacy of buildings swathed in the potentially deadly material.
The number of affected properties is unknown but could be in the thousands, with a preliminary audit in NSW alone identifying 1,011 buildings that require investigation.
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