Bunnings to stop selling engineered stone linked to incurable silicosis The hardware giant, Bunnings Warehouse, is set to stop selling a popular kitchen benchtop material linked to the incurable lung disease, silicosis. The retailer said it has only stocked a limited range of engineered stone benchtops in the past, SBSNews reported. But the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has hailed this move as a win in its fight to ban the material altogether. Bunnings Director of Merchandise, Jen Tucker said in a statement that it would cease sales from December 31, 2023. When engineered stone is cut, polished, or sawn, dust particles are released into the air. If these particles are inhaled they can cause lung damage, known as silicosis, with potentially fatal consequences. Safe Work Australia determined the danger posed by high levels of silica dust to workers using engineered stone products was unacceptable, in a report published in October. As a result, the compliance organisation recommended a complete ban on its use. “Following the recent Safe Work Australia report and consultation with our suppliers, we have made the decision to withdraw the limited range of engineered stone benchtops we offer, from December 31, 2023,” Ms Tucker said. She added that most benchtops sold at Bunnings stores were laminate and timber, and the retailer was, "well progressed with sourcing other alternative products". CFMEU national secretary Zach Smith said Bunnings' announcement marked, "the end of the line for engineered stone.” “Bunnings should be congratulated for eventually doing the right thing and pulling these deadly benchtops from their shelves," Mr Smith said in a statement. HIA welcomes the Housing Australia Future Fund The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has welcomed the announcement of the commencement of the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF). HIA Managing Director, Jocelyn Martin said, “the Housing Australia Future Fund is an important initiative from the Federal Government to build 30,000 much needed new social and affordable homes.” “HIA is also pleased to see the establishment of ‘Housing Australia’, a new entity to oversee the HAFF and other key programs as part of the housing reform agenda.” These include creating the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council to inform the Government of gaps in the supply of housing and identifying necessary funding and policy decisions to support more homes coming to market. “The Federal Government recently announced that it wants 1.2 million homes built over five years starting July 2024, as part of its National Housing Accord. This is necessary to begin addressing the long-term shortage of housing supply,” Ms Martin said. “It is important to recognise that the commitment to supply 30,000 social and affordable homes via the HAFF represents only 2.5 per cent of this aspirational target.” However, Ms Martin says that broader reforms are required to address the current housing shortages and aid the private sector in enabling the delivery of the targets. “Without these broader reforms, the pressure on social and affordable housing will remain, and the continued undersupply of housing of all forms will only increase,” concluded Ms Martin. Metcash moves to take over Total Tools Supermarket wholesaler Metcash is set to take full control of the Total Tools business. Metcash currently owns 85 per cent of the Total Tools chain but is acquiring the remaining 15 per cent for $101.5 million after the current owners of the minority stake exercised a put option. Total Tools Chief Executive Paul Dumbrell will step down after more than five years in the position. He NEWS 28 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | DECEMBER '23