A recent News Release (See ABCB News Release – Overview of Termite Risk Management proposed changes) from the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) tried to portray a circumstance whereby the ABCB, in the previous two years, had only just become aware of a major problem with the ‘Barrier’ Status’ provided to termite management systems through the provisions upheld and presented within the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and in the Termite Management Standards (AS 3660 Series).

In 2001, the Courier Mail allowed Mr. Hedley Thomas to provide a scurrilous article that was predicated on the contentious, false and misleading advice upheld within the wrongful provisions of both the Building Codes and the Standards and also contained in both oral and written advice provided by the Queensland Building Services Authority.

The advice provided in the 2001 article (See Courier Mail Article on TAG) referring to the recent changes to the Building Code not requiring chemical termiticide applications  was that, “Instead of chemicals, builders are installing termite-resistant physical barriers to prevent penetrations. The changes are environmentally friendly, maintenance-free and, arguably, termite-proof.” 

Mr. Hedley Thomas knew little, if anything, about termite management and did not let the truth stand in the way of a good story.  This article was littered with lies and suppositions garnered from dissatisfied former TAG members with an axe to grind and a commercial agenda to fulfil.  The course now taken by the ABCB and Standards Australia in amending their respective publications stands as a stark testimony to the wrongful advice provided by Mr. Thomas.

Thomas’s advice further stands as a complete antithesis to that provided by the Chairperson of the Termite Standards Committee (BD-074), Dr Don Ewart, who in 2012 provided the accurate advice in an IRG Paper uniquely titled “Managing Termite Risks – An Australian Perspective and a Cautionary Tale” (See IRG 12-20482) that “This seems to be an inadequate provision, since it takes a single termite less than a minute to travel from the ground and up the exterior wall to a weep-hole in masonry or some similar entry point”.

The fact that a termite can be in a position where it is quickly able to ‘bridge’ a termite management system in minutes seems to be at odds with Thomas’s statement that these systems are arguably, termite-proof!

Mr. Thomas’s advice simply assists termites’ dietary requirement in providing such advice and betrays his readership by assisting in having their homes served up as ‘packaged food’!

The author of the IRG Paper, in part, answers some of the questions in the ACCC Letter (See ACCC Letter to Standards Australia) of September 2009.  It should be noted that the BD-074 refrained from providing the ACCC with any answers to the fourteen simple questions provided therein.

For the ABCB to come out now with advice in their news release that states “In 2012, concerns were raised by industry regarding the use of the term “termite barrier” in As 3660.1 and the NCC. Concerns were also raised regarding the consistency of certification of termite systems due to an absence of performance criteria in AS 3660.3.  In response, the ABCB agreed to establish a project with the objective of initiating a review AS 3660.1, developing additional deemed-to-satisfy provisions which are not reliant on AS 3660.1 and adopting a revised AS 3660.3 as a referenced document for the testing of products which fall outside the scope of AS 3660.1.” , is an absolute nonsense.

Simply put, in 2007 a “Proposal for Change” (See PFC Submissionwas provided to the ABCB which stated in part therein that, Physical termite management systems were generally promoted by manufacturers and promoters of these products as a ‘chemical-free’ form of termite protection.  This appealed immensely to environmentally sensitive members of the public and further engendered a reliance on these supposedly ‘green’ systems as ‘stand alone’ systems.  This was despite the fact that all of these systems were only chemical-free until such time as they encounter termites.  They were also sold and promoted as ‘termite protection’ when, in essence, they could only be considered to be termite monitoring systems that redirected termites to an inspection zone where they could be observed and chemically treated”. 

In 2007, a two hour power-point presentation was made to the ABCB National Technical Summit at Hahndorf on this same subject stating that these systems were NOT barriers!

In November 2008, an emergency meeting called by the General Manager of the ABCB and held at the ACCC board-room in Brisbane and attended by an ABCB representative and two Building Codes Committee members discussed this situation as is recorded in the minutes of that meeting (See BCC Sub committee meeting on termites 3 Oct 2008).

In the simplest of terms, the ABCB in league with Standards Australia has provided the construction industry with hopelessly flawed provisions that have caused several million homes to be constructed with little or no defence against termite activity since the year 2000 when these provisions first came into force.

In trying to defend their untenable position, the ABCB pretends that this is a new development that has just come about in the last two years.  Absolute tripe! The ABCB has been warned on a number of occasions that have been recorded over seven years.  The ABCB was warned prior to 2007 on several occasions through members on their BCC who had discussions with TAG.

The former General Manager of the ABCB even had the temerity to state in a newspaper article that “there is no evidence the existing provisions for termite management are deficient.”  This advice was provided to the journalist despite the General Manager of the ABCB being provided with a Submission (See ABCB Submission Document) that so clearly outlined the problem that he personally called for that extraordinary meeting held at the ACCC board-room.

Bureaucrats in both the ABCB and Standards Australia have been made patently aware of the “Barrier Status” problem for over seven years.  Meeting minutes, submissions and proposals for change have been provided to these functionaries on many occasions and they have simply advised that their Building Codes and Standards are technically correct when they were simply wrong!

This collective of idiots have effectively put many hundreds of thousands of homes owned by ordinary Australian citizens in a continual ‘AT RISK’ situation because of their failure to address this situation!

The Standards’ Committee (BD-074) was simply corrupt and had members with pecuniary interests masquerading as representatives for Consumers, environment centres and industry associations when their real interest was to retain a prescriptive listing in the Standard of “a product that was unable to perform the function it was designed for” in direct deference to a primary tenet of the BCA.

Standards should simply provide performance criteria for products and systems as opposed to prescriptively listing products therein that are unable to perform the function that they are designed to fulfil.

Termite systems that have been wrongfully addressed as ‘Termite Barriers’ for over 14 years will suddenly lose that status and now become termite management systems!

One might ask about termite management systems, “How do they manage?”

The answer would be “Poorly!  They can be ‘bridged’ in minutes and inspections are generally an annual event!”

An email (See Email – Letter to AIBS) sent to the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS), an industry association for Building Surveyors who certify buildings and building products, attests to the circumstance in detail back in 2008 after a former National President of the AIBS advised TAG that the AIBS was no longer represented on the BD-074 and, with good reason.

Bureaucrats pretend that this is a recent event, but the reality is that they have been told on multiple occasions that these systems were not Termite Barriers!

It is with some amazement that the TAG views a situation where the primary asset of most Australian citizens can be put at continual ongoing risk by the regulatory provisions of the Building Code and the Standards with impunity from prosecution.

To suggest these people worked for the welfare of the Australian people is absolutely implausible and laughable!

The preconstruction termite regulations and provisions are, in fact, creating masses of work in the post-construction area of termite management with termites infesting houses at an alarming rate!

This is a shambolic mess created by inane bureaucracy!

The corrupt BD-074 members’ pecuniary interests have over-ridden Homeowners’ rights!

This is a systemic and endemic failure of the system that will continue to wreak havoc in peoples’ lives for many years to come, especially given that houses over the previous 14 years are generally almost completely unprotected against termites and have been designed primarily as packaged termite food as opposed to residences for ordinary Australian Homeowners.

To see the shambolic mess (See BCA Vol2-PCD_Consolidated) made in removing the word ‘barrier’ and replacing it with ‘termite management system’ or ‘partial system’, etc.; as well as removing the word ‘protection’ from ALL diagrams.  This allows you to view how the ABCB has attempted to rectify the situation with a red pen!

One Comment (Leave a Reply)

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