The NSW government admits it’s “not satisfactory” that owners of apartments at the structurally-damaged Mascot Towers have to foot the $1 million-plus bill to fund repairs.
But the minister in charge of building standards says that until the exact cause is known, it will be difficult to hold those responsible to account.
The 10-year-old building in Sydney’s south was evacuated at short notice last Friday after engineers became concerned about continued cracking in the primary support structure and facade masonry.
An engineers summary released on Thursday says there are some signs the complex is “stabilising”, but there is no immediate prospect of residents returning within the next month.
More than 100 unit owners held a four-hour long meeting on Thursday night, where they voted to pay a $1 million special levy to fund initial works.
For one of them, Brian Tucker, the decision was a no-brainer.
“There’s not much choice,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“It was a pretty overwhelming vote. We just want to see everyone back in the building.”
Mascot Towers media liaison Patrick McGuire said the owners were obviously disappointed.
“They’re concerned about what the future is but it’s early days yet and there’s a very good team of people that they’re taking advice from,” he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had been invited to the meeting but did not show, nor did any ministers.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said representatives from Fair Trading NSW were on hand to provide support, acknowledging it was an “extremely stressful” situation for owners and residents.
Mr Anderson said it was a “spaghetti nest” as to who was liable to pay for the damage.
“It’s not a satisfactory situation at all,” he told ABC Radio National on Friday.
“Engineers are looking at the building … Let them do that work, find out what the problem is, then ultimately they’ll work out who’s accountable. Someone has to be accountable.”
He said the government had a responsibility to look after and support those affected, but noted it was a civil liability issue because it was a privately-owned building.
Engineers have said they need at least another week to provide findings that have more substance.
A second firm of engineers has been appointed to review current assessments.