by a Sydney contributor.
Earlier this month there was an ABC radio programme (podcast extract below) about the cracked Mascot Towers in Sydney and the awful and expensive prospects facing apartment owners.
The interviewer sought the opinions of a Professor Bill Randolph – Director of UNSW Cities Futures Research Centre.
Professor Randolph mentioned the haste with which apartment blocks are being constructed due to rapid population growth which is one of the many factors predisposing poor quality design and construction in some buildings.
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It was noticeable that neither he nor the interviewer identified as a possible solution a slowing of that growth, instead concentrating only on somehow fixing the system to accommodate all these inevitable new urban dwellers arriving in the coming years.
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I’m amazed that this head of a University Research Centre says he doesn’t know what the answer is. Every professional in the building industry knows that these quality problems originated in the 1990s, with the adoption by federal and state governments of neo-liberalism methods, a primary element being minimalist government participation in the quality control of construction projects.
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Private certifications paid for by those being certified replaced government inspections. Governments were attracted to it because they saved money, caring not that there was a huge and glaringly obvious conflict of interest certain to lead to corruption. Those savings are now being paid for by apartment owners.
Commentators will hesitate to criticise the system because it will reflect badly on government abandonment of public protection, replacing it with reliance on the honesty of developers and those involved in construction.
We live under capitalism and in that system there will always be those for whom there is only maximum capital (money), nothing else mattering. Did not a recent banking royal commission identify such widespread behaviour?
The ABC Radio podcast extract from ‘The Signal’ programme aired Thursday June 20 in 2019:
Why are high-rise buildings falling apart?
Imagine your partner shaking you awake and telling you that you’ve got 15 minutes to grab what you can and get out of your million dollar apartment. That’s what happened to Fabiano dos Santos last week, a resident of the still empty Mascot Towers in Sydney.
It’s not the first time a high-rise has been evacuated recently. Other apartment buildings have been breaking too.
So what happens when you find yourself suddenly homeless because your apartment complex might be falling down? And why does this keep happening?
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