WHEN Chief Minister Katy Gallagher stood alongside the Minister for Employment and the ACT, Eric Abetz, to make the major Mr Fluffy announcement there were those who believed we were about to hear the solution, but an all-encompassing solution is never going to be possible.
There are 1000-plus families involved in this. Although these loose asbestos fibres have drawn them all together, they’re all different. Their houses are all different. Their stories are all different. It’s impossible to construct a one-size-fits-all solution that’s going to please even half of them.
I was most disappointed with the Commonwealth’s contribution to this. They haven’t given much beyond kindly allowing us to borrow $1 billion dollars that we have to pay them back with interest.
Mr Fluffy asbestos went into these homes while the ACT was under Federal control. Irrespective of any legal waivers that have been signed, I think there is a moral responsibility for the Feds to put a lot more skin in this game.
I put that to Senator Abetz. He smiled his polite smile and explained all of the legalities away. He assured me that if the ACT had been inundated by floodwaters that forced the demolition of 1000 homes, the Commonwealth response would be exactly the same. We all know it wouldn’t be.
Abetz knew that Gallagher was under enormous pressure to announce a “solution” and that, as a consequence, she’d accept the loan offer. She had no choice. I’m annoyed with the Feds. Many Fluffy owners are annoyed with the local government.
Mike has lived in his “Mr Fluffy home” in Kambah for 12 years. He called my radio program. How does he feel?
“Appalled, disgusted and let down,” he said. “Nothing good is coming out of this for me and my family.”
A number of houses on Mike’s street were razed by the 2003 bushfires. He now wishes that theirs had gone up in smoke, too.
“If it had burnt down, we could have just rebuilt and we’d be fine,” he said.
Matt now lives in Dunlop. He grew up in a “Fluffy home”. His father has mesothelioma. Did the house cause it?
“How would we ever know?” Matt asked when I spoke to him last week. “He worked as a motor mechanic for many years so he could have been exposed in a number of ways.”
Despite leaving the offending residence years ago, Matt feels bitter and helpless.
And Steve from Pearce doesn’t want to leave his home.
“We like it here. It’s been our home since 1967,” he said. “They’re going to have to drag me out kicking and screaming”
I think we’re a long way from being done here, folks.