Mr Fluffy asbestos: Canberra contamination talks secure Commonwealth cooperation

June 17, 2014 Mark


The ACT Government has received assurances the Commonwealth is willing to cooperate in dealing with the threat of asbestos contamination in Canberra homes.

About 1,000 Canberra properties had loose amosite asbestos installed by insulation company Mr Fluffy in the late 1960s and 1970s.

A Federal Government program aimed to remove the asbestos between 1988 and 1993 but some cleared homes have since been found to contain potentially deadly remnant fibres.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has held talks with the responsible federal minister, Senator Eric Abetz, as her Government grapples with responding to the crisis, which has forced some residents out of their homes.

Ms Gallagher has called on the Commonwealth to honour a 1991 memorandum of understanding which tied the Federal Government to funding if Mr Fluffy contamination caused further problems.

She said she and Senator Abetz spoke for more than half an hour about the situation and the meeting was very positive.

“I think there was a commitment there to work together at this point,” she said.

“There was no ‘we’re coming with lots of money, we’re going to help you solve it,’ I think it’s probably a bit early for that.

“But there was certainly genuine engagement and a commitment to work together.”

Ms Gallagher said the Federal Government seemed to be taking the issue seriously.

“The fact that I could get a meeting within a day of making a formal request to that minister shows a level of willingness on the Commonwealth’s part to listen and to understand the problem,” she said.

“All I can say it was a positive first step, obviously lots more to do and we’re doing a lot.”

The ACT Government has previously announced relief funding for affected homeowners.

It will pay each of the affected families up to $10,000, plus an additional $2,000 for each dependant child, to cover the costs of emergency accommodation and immediate remediation work.

The Government earlier said there were about 10 families who could not return to their homes.

A spokesman for Senator Abetz said the Minister had a productive meeting with Ms Gallagher and understands the distress the issue is causing Canberra residents.

“The Federal Government is assisting the ACT Government to carefully work through this issue,” he said.

“It is important that all involved work cooperatively to properly determine the extent of the problem so that we can ensure the best possible response.”