Is it time for witness protection in the building product supply wars?

October 18, 2022

Commenting on safety risks and non-complainant building products in the building and construction marketplace is not for the fainthearted. Just read the comments on my last blog, where a senior officer of a major Australian building company writes openly about death threats he has received for refusing to use building products.


There is a nasty underbelly to the sales and marketing of non-compliant building products in Australia that we need to discuss.


The foot soldiers in these supply wars are the sales and marketing representatives of the manufacturers and suppliers. They attend conferences, competitor product launches, professional development presentations and they trawl social media looking for references to their products or even their genre. Their assignment is to shut down debate about the safety risks of their product, and its testing requirements.


Their first tactic is a ‘please explain’ request, fishing for the basis of your information. They won’t be ignored. The second tactic -‘I will take this to my CEO’. The third tactic, of course, is that they lawyer up. But they don’t stop there. They will use Freedom of information legislation to continue fishing for anything resembling an actionable statement, and will spuriously claim rights to shut down independent third-party testing of their products.


Brand protection and holding people to account for the accuracy of their statements is fair game. But there is more to this than that. This is intimidatory. It’s anti-competitive. It’s unethical. It’s anti-social.


I say this because I have experienced it first-hand. I have seen it happen to clients. I hear it from others who message me privately with credible details of their experiences.


The proposed building product safety and supply chain laws for NSW go some way to compelling disclosure about these things -but only if you are in the chain of responsibility. Perhaps there should be protection for those in the industry that see and hear things that are worthy of investigation.


Let me know what you think. In the meantime, you can have your say on the NSW proposal until 25 November 2022 at

Michael Teys

Strata expert

Michael is a strata expert with over 30 years experience in strata law and management. He is a strata researcher with City Futures Research Centre UNSW, a consultant to strata industry suppliers, and conducts executive education for strata managers and property processionals.