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Minister Orr Media Release: Loose-fill asbestos legacy coming to an end

November 19, 2019

The legacy of ‘Mr Fluffy’ loose fill asbestos in the ACT is coming to an end, with 978 affected properties fully demolished since the ACT Government introduced the buyback scheme in 2014.

With many Canberra families having now moved on from their affected houses, the ACT Government is introducing a range of initiatives to support community safety outcomes as remaining homeowners, manage their affected property.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Suzanne Orr, today announced the Pathways to Eradication Package during Asbestos Awareness Week.

“The Pathways to Eradication Package is part of our Government’s commitment to work with homeowners and all Canberrans to reduce the impact of asbestos on our community,” Minister Orr said.

The Package considers the individual needs of homeowners as well as the safety risk that Mr Fluffy affected properties pose to the community, including tradespeople and care workers who may visit the houses.

“Since 2014, the Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme has helped to remove 95% of the 1,024 identified Mr Fluffy affected properties from the Canberra community. The total net cost of the scheme is expected to be around $300 million.

“Remaining affected properties continue to put the occupiers and members of the broader community, who may enter the property, at risk of exposure to loose fill asbestos insulation.

“This Package supports homeowners to manage their transition to new living arrangements and take necessary actions to minimise the risk of exposure to themselves and anyone attending their property,” Minister Orr said.

The Pathways to Eradication Package initiatives include: 

  • Transition Assistance, providing homeowners who have complex health or financial circumstances the ability to access the equity in their home to assist with expenses associated with moving to new accommodation.
  • Additional Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) requirements, to make it easier for tradespeople, care workers and visitors to access the information they need when attending an affected property.
  • Development and Building Approval restrictions, to limit building activity at affected properties to essential maintenance and safety works.
  • The introduction of an Occupancy Prohibition for new owners and tenants, to prevent affected properties being occupied following ownership transfer or the end of a rental agreement.

However, the Government’s position remains that the only enduring solution to the existence of loose fill asbestos in the ACT is demolition of affected properties. 

By 2025, homeowners will have had 10 years to manage their affected property through a range of options, including Government initiatives or private arrangements. 

While not a preferred option, the ACT Government acknowledges that it may need to take future Compulsory Acquisition action if homeowners do not arrange for the demolition of their affected property prior to mid-2025. 

Any future Compulsory Acquisition commencement actions will be timed on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the specific circumstances of each remaining homeowner or resident.

Homeowners will be contacted by the Asbestos Response Taskforce to discuss these initiatives, what it means for them, and how the Taskforce can support them in the lead-up to 30 June 2020. The Asbestos Response Taskforce can be contacted by phone on 6205 4700 or email at [email protected].

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