CHIEF Minister Katy Gallagher says more than one thousand Canberra houses affected by ‘Mr Fluffy’ loose fill asbestos insulation will be bought and demolished by the ACT Government following an in principle agreement with the Commonwealth Government.
The Commonwealth will provide the ACT with a $1 billion concessional loan towards the cost of the program.
“It is a clear recommendation from the asbestos taskforce report that the only way to solve the Mr Fluffy saga once and for all is to demolish affected houses. For Mr Fluffy homeowners, we believe this program will offer a fair and flexible solution which will remove the risk of loose fill asbestos not only to homeowners and tenants, but to the broader community,” Katy said.
“This is a significant undertaking. We are talking about the purchase and demolition of 1021 residential properties across many of Canberra’s established suburbs.
“Financing this work will cost up to $1 billion, with an expected net cost in the hundreds of millions.
Due to the magnitude of this program we have asked for the Commonwealth Government’s assistanceto undertake this important work.
“These negotiations have taken some time, which I know has been incredibly hard on the homeowners, but I am pleased to advise the Commonwealth has accepted the Taskforce advice and agreed to provide a loan to underwrite the buyback scheme.
“Whilst the ACT Government did not get the assistance we had asked for, I thank Senator Eric Abetz and Commonwealth officials for their professional and compassionate approach to this issue.
“Today’s announcement will give these homeowners confidence that the buyback will go ahead and that is the most important part of today’s announcement.”
The Chief Minister said participation in the scheme was voluntary. Through the program houses will be valued as if they were not affected by loose fill asbestos.
Once houses are demolished and blocks of land remediated, blocks will be made available to be for re-sale, with the original homeowner given the first option to buy back the block for their own occupation.
The Chief Minister said community support throughout this program will be important and detail will be provided throughout the program to ensure all residents are aware of activity and progress.
“The Taskforce will also be arranging a number of community forums and drop-in sessions to allow questions on the technical elements of the program to be discussed in greater detail,” the Chief Minister concluded.
Details of how the demolition and buyback scheme will work will be released next week with a view to finalising prior to the scheme becoming operational in January next year.
In the meantime emergency assistance continues to be available through the taskforce.
The taskforce report is available on its website: www.act.gov.au/asbestos-response-taskforce .
[Photo via http://www.m3asbestos.com/asbestos-materials/loose-fill-asbestos/ ]
UPDATE: The Liberals’ Jeremy Hanson has expressed his satisfaction with this outcome.
“One thousand plus families have been under stress waiting for progress on this issue and today they’ll be able to see a clearer road ahead. The decision by the ACT government to buyback more than one thousand residential properties will certainly provide some comfort for those affected,” Jeremy said.
“That coupled with the decision of the Commonwealth to provide a $1 billion concessional loan towards the cost of the program means the impact on the ACT Budget is manageable.
“While I accept we did not get all that the ACT requested from the Commonwealth, I’m pleased that the road to a permanent resolution is clearer. I look forward to the ACT government now running an effective program for those affected by the Mr Fluffy saga,” Mr Hanson concluded.