13 Apr 2009

Standards Australia defends bushfire building code

4:35 pm on 13 April 2009

Standards Australia has rejected criticism of a new national bushfire building code.

The new national standard was adopted last month by Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, and must be introduced by all other states and territories by May next year.

However, the CSIRO and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council told the ABC there are serious flaws in the standard. Both organisations are members of Standards Australia's bushfire committee and voted against the new standard.

The council wants applications to build houses in the most dangerous bushfire areas - known as the flame zone - assessed on a case-by-case basis, but the committee did not agree to this provision.

Standards Australia's chief executive, John Tucker, says state and territory governments have the main responsibility when it comes to this area of the code. He says every government in Australia has indicated to Standards Australia that they take responsibility for that.

The ABC reports that 12 of the 17 groups on the Standards Australia bushfire committee are industry groups, rather than scientific or safety organisations.

Mr Tucker rejects any suggestion that the bushfire committee is stacked in favour of industry interests. He is adamant that Standards Australia follows a robust international process for the development of standards, as set out by the rules of the World Trade Organisation.