Kamis, 28 Agustus 2014

Canberra homeowners await delayed government response to Mr Fluffy asbestos crisis (ABC)

The owners of Canberra homes contaminated with deadly Mr Fluffy Asbestos insulation face several more weeks of waiting to find out what government action will be taken in response to the unfolding crisis.

More than 1,000 houses in Canberra and New South Wales had loose-fill asbestos pumped into the roof spaces by the Mr Fluffy company in the 1960s and 1970s.

Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause the lung cancer mesothelioma.

The ACT Government's Asbestos Response Taskforce was due to give its final advisory report to the ACT Government but has been granted an extension.

Cabinet has considered recommendations from the taskforce, but Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said a final decision was at least another month away because the Government did not have all the information it needed.

"If we say we want to agree in principle to a demolition program or a remediation program for that matter, that will be informed by the cost of that program without a doubt," Ms Gallagher said.

"There's going to be hundreds of millions of dollars needed either way.

"I think it's fair that cabinet, and indeed the Commonwealth, consider what the financial requests are going to be around implementing the recommendations."

Expert advice has been leaning towards a mass demolition of all homes contaminated with the Mr Fluffy product.

Ms Gallagher said she was conscious people were waiting for the advice to be released.

"That's why I've been trying to keep the momentum going and have that advice provided to cabinet in August," she said.

"That was done but we've got some other questions that need to be answered before we can finalise our position."

Brianna Heseltine from the Mr Fluffy Owners and Residents' Action Group said many affected homeowners were poised to leave their homes and never return.

"With 40 families out of their homes, the answers can't come quickly enough, but we do know that there are budget issues here that need to be worked through," she said.

Inquiry into Mr Fluffy response likely

ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson has called for a board of inquiry, which carries the powers of a royal commission, to examine the entire response to the Mr Fluffy situation over more than four decades.

"A full and comprehensive inquiry that is a-political, that is independent, that can get to the bottom of what has gone so tragically wrong," he said.

"The ACT community, with an issue of this scale which is potentially the biggest bill that the ACT community has ever faced, with more people affected by this than potentially any other issue in the ACT's history, deserve a full and comprehensive inquiry."

Ms Gallagher said the priority was to form a plan for affected homeowners, but she agreed an inquiry was needed in some form.

"I genuinely do believe we need to have a look at it, review it, learn from everything that's happened," she said.


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