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Fluffy factions: The sad side story of the asbestos saga

Marcus Paul 17 July 2015 59

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One of the saddest stories (and there are many) to come out of the Mr Fluffy fiasco is the emergence of what I’ve termed the ‘Fluffy factions’.

As the ACT Government has wrestled with how to respond, and negotiated the bum deal it got from the Feds, it has become apparent that no matter the solution, it can’t please everyone. This is perfectly understandable.

It’s easy for us in the media to sit behind a microphone or computer. I can extend my sympathy and understanding, but I will never really know what it feels like to discover my family home has been infected by this toxic stuff and that the government wants me out.

It must always be remembered these are family homes. They are not simply plots of land that I suspect the ACT Government (perhaps reluctantly) feels it needs to profit from. Given Canberrans are now in debt to the tune of a billion dollars – mostly thanks to the inaction and frankly ‘uncaring’ response from the Abbott Government – this is also understandable.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for home owners, renters and others who have lived in these homes. It must be anxiety-inducing to know that you spent an extended period of time living in a potentially dangerous environment. The recent publication of the list of Mr Fluffy homes would have heightened these concerns throughout our community.

I also can’t imagine the niggling doubts felt by tradespeople who may well have trampled through these homes over the decades, repairing this and that, possibly without knowing that the the ugly and despicable Mr Fluffy had left his mark.

So much worry, so many memories.

I recently encountered an act of trolling as I was filtering through the social media site set up by victims of Mr Fluffy. It got me thinking, why is it that people with so much common ground often end up on different levels?

The emotion of the Mr Fluffy saga has led to splinter groups of people with different agendas. It’s sad to often see them at each other’s throats, both online and in the media.

I guess it’s just human nature, and sometimes adversity can lead to people lashing out at those they consider targets, often because they have nowhere else to turn. The frustration, anger and resentment I’ve observed in recent times has been palpable.

I just hope that all Mr Fluffy victims find a way to move past the ordeal in their own way, and in their own time. The victims have the vast majority of Canberrans on side. After all, we are all footing the bill.

However, I’d also like to suggest that Mr Fluffy victims be careful when they turn on each other. This ugly side of the Fluffy saga may mean public sympathy diminishes, and no one can afford that.

(Photo via ACT Asbestos Response Taskforce.)

Marcus Paul is the host of Canberra Live 3pm weekdays on 2CC.

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Fluffy factions: The sad side story of the asbestos saga
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Dr_Mongrel 4:49 pm 17 Jul 15

I’ve been watching the saga unfold and I’ve seen the online tussles. I must admit I have zero time for the people who think they’re so entitled to the billion odd dollars we’ve shelled out on them without so much as a bit of common gratitude.

From what I’ve read, Ms Heseltine didn’t have to lead the charge and the lawyers sure as Hell weren’t lining up for everyone. She brought Goliath to his knees and the peanut gallery thinks she owes them more.

On top of it all, I heard her on the radio saying how grateful she and others were for the bailout and then one of the other home owners attacked her and called her a sell out. Apparently she’s not even entitled to speak for herself or others who know they’ve been spared at our expense.

John Moulis 4:44 pm 17 Jul 15

Maya123 said :

JC said :

Marcus Paul said :

“Fluffy ‘knew’ the risks – yet failed to warn its customers – show me evidence to suggest otherwise.

Where is the evidence to suggest that in 1968 that the Mr Fluffy product was known to be so dangerous to householders?

A quick check of the net. First thing I checked to answer this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbestos

“By the beginning of the 20th century concerns were beginning to be raised, which escalated in severity during the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1980s and 1990s asbestos trade and use started to become banned outright, phased out, or heavily restricted in an increasing number of countries.”

In fact, I read someone claiming their parents had rejected the chance of having Mr Fluffy put insulation in their house, because even then they knew of the dangers.

So, many years before 1968; the 1920s and 1930s. However, the general public might not have been aware, but I’m sure the authorities were.

In 1979 I worked in the mailroom at the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust and one of the companies they invested in was James Hardie. 60 Minutes had done a story on the dangers of asbestos and that resulted in a flurry of other media stories. Hardies sent us a copy of their annual report, and included with it was a pamphlet headed “Asbestos – Scotching the Myths”. It’s a pity I didn’t snaffle it at the time because it would have been very amusing reading nowadays.

switch 3:13 pm 17 Jul 15

Maya123 said :

So, many years before 1968; the 1920s and 1930s. However, the general public might not have been aware, but I’m sure the authorities were.

Only if they cared to look.

Testfest 2:59 pm 17 Jul 15

Marcus Paul said :

Really JC? I haven’t named the owner personally. The fact remains this product and the foul legacy it has left on our city is “ugly and despicable” I have plenty of information that dismisses any notion that the company had little knowledge of the potential risks associated with pumping this toxic crap into homes. You obviously haven’t been affected? I’d suggest you may well be in a very small minority of people who would offer any support to this company.

Mr Fluffy is NOT a victim.

Marcus Paul,

I personally have no problem with you making the claim that the owner of the Mr Fluffy company knew how toxic his product was, but I (and a number of other rioters judging by the comments in this thread) do have a problem with you not providing any evidence for this claim whatsoever.

So far all you have presented is a series of ad hominem attacks on various other posters in this thread, implying that they lack empathy, or that they are “quarterwits” or “apologists” for daring to ask for some evidence.

You said that you “have plenty of information that dismisses any notion that the company has little knowledge of the potential risks”?

Great, give us that information and silence all your critics!

John Hargreaves 2:58 pm 17 Jul 15

Marcus Paul said :

“Why is Mr Fluffy ugly and despicable. He was installing a product that at the time was legal and a very valid and good way of insulating a house. The fact it has since turned out to be such a disaster hardly warrants character assassination of this type against the guy (who has passed away) who ran the business and has no place in any rational discussion or debate about the issue”

Really JC? I haven’t named the owner personally. The fact remains this product and the foul legacy it has left on our city is “ugly and despicable” I have plenty of information that dismisses any notion that the company had little knowledge of the potential risks associated with pumping this toxic crap into homes. You obviously haven’t been affected? I’d suggest you may well be in a very small minority of people who would offer any support to this company.

Mr Fluffy is NOT a victim.

Any more than James Hardie was. Ask the Baynton family

bulldog600 2:51 pm 17 Jul 15

Marcus Marcus Marcus if only it were so easy to say all this could of been avoided but in reality it’s up to the authorities to ban a product such as this and as has been mentioned it hadn’t.
I do have sympathy for the people affected but we could argue about who’s fault it is all day and go nowhere and it will not help the people affected.
My only opinion in all this is that the federal government should of taken this on and not “loan” the money to the ACT council, sorry government to handle. we have seen history with that council in relation to a number of issues in the ACT when it comes to construction so god help us with them managing demolition.
The fact that the federal government so called cleaned these homes when in fact that wasn’t the case should of been taken to the high court for them to rule on the negligence.
Anyways again I don’t disagree with your article I just think we need to move forward now for all involved

Maya123 1:52 pm 17 Jul 15

JC said :

Marcus Paul said :

“Fluffy ‘knew’ the risks – yet failed to warn its customers – show me evidence to suggest otherwise.

Where is the evidence to suggest that in 1968 that the Mr Fluffy product was known to be so dangerous to householders?

A quick check of the net. First thing I checked to answer this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbestos

“By the beginning of the 20th century concerns were beginning to be raised, which escalated in severity during the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1980s and 1990s asbestos trade and use started to become banned outright, phased out, or heavily restricted in an increasing number of countries.”

In fact, I read someone claiming their parents had rejected the chance of having Mr Fluffy put insulation in their house, because even then they knew of the dangers.

So, many years before 1968; the 1920s and 1930s. However, the general public might not have been aware, but I’m sure the authorities were.

Bennop 1:47 pm 17 Jul 15

Marcus Paul said :

“So you think a simple small business operator should know more and better than government and health authorities about the product he is using? Like I said, pull your head in.”

Your support, sympathy and excuses for a company which has cost this city nearly a billion dollars, and has affected probably one-hundred thousand people (or more) is duly noted. If providing an opinion warrants me to “pull my head in” then I’ll keep talking, I obviously need to, with apologists like you out there 🙂

I’m no apologist. But I am trying to highlight that you are sensationalising an issue that was essentially a case of dumb bad luck, and you are also trying to pull out the pitchforks to blame someone who can’t talk back.

Marcus Paul 1:34 pm 17 Jul 15

“So you think a simple small business operator should know more and better than government and health authorities about the product he is using? Like I said, pull your head in.”

Your support, sympathy and excuses for a company which has cost this city nearly a billion dollars, and has affected probably one-hundred thousand people (or more) is duly noted. If providing an opinion warrants me to “pull my head in” then I’ll keep talking, I obviously need to, with apologists like you out there 🙂

JC 12:34 pm 17 Jul 15

Marcus Paul said :

“Fluffy ‘knew’ the risks – yet failed to warn its customers – show me evidence to suggest otherwise.

Where is the evidence to suggest that in 1968 that the Mr Fluffy product was known to be so dangerous to householders?

Read any of the reports done on Mr Fluffy and the concern seems to be not about using amosite as an insulation product, but about the dangers about the method of insulation and the precautions the workers were taking installing it. Indeed even after Mr Fluffy closed shop it took another 10 years to get serious about a clean up didn’t it?

Bennop 12:33 pm 17 Jul 15

Marcus Paul said :

“By your logic every service station and bottle shop are also “ugly and despicable”. Tobacco and booze kill.
Pull your head in.”

And just like that, some quarter wit pipes up and proves my point regarding this entire post.

Yeah, OK, servo’s and bottlo’s might sell grog and ciggies – but these are drugs with plenty of warnings given about their affects. My argument (if you care to listen) is that Fluffy ‘knew’ the risks – yet failed to warn its customers – show me evidence to suggest otherwise.

You shouldn’t ask for evidence against something you haven’t proven yourself. But seeing you have:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/2014-08-10/5649508

http://citynews.com.au/2014/revealed-scandalous-mr-fluffly-legacy-lives/

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/mr-fluffy-employee-had-no-idea-asbestos-insulation-was-dangerous-20140724-zvqk3.html

So you think a simple small business operator should know more and better than government and health authorities about the product he is using? Like I said, pull your head in.

Now, where is your evidence?

JC 12:24 pm 17 Jul 15

Marcus Paul said :


Mr Fluffy is NOT a victim.

Nor is he a criminal, and whilst you didn’t name he everyone knows it was one guy running a legal business installing a legal product. The comments had no place in the article or the debate, stick to facts.

Marcus Paul 12:08 pm 17 Jul 15

“By your logic every service station and bottle shop are also “ugly and despicable”. Tobacco and booze kill.
Pull your head in.”

And just like that, some quarter wit pipes up and proves my point regarding this entire post.

Yeah, OK, servo’s and bottlo’s might sell grog and ciggies – but these are drugs with plenty of warnings given about their affects. My argument (if you care to listen) is that Fluffy ‘knew’ the risks – yet failed to warn its customers – show me evidence to suggest otherwise.

Bennop 11:55 am 17 Jul 15

Marcus Paul said :

“Why is Mr Fluffy ugly and despicable. He was installing a product that at the time was legal and a very valid and good way of insulating a house. The fact it has since turned out to be such a disaster hardly warrants character assassination of this type against the guy (who has passed away) who ran the business and has no place in any rational discussion or debate about the issue”

Really JC? I haven’t named the owner personally. The fact remains this product and the foul legacy it has left on our city is “ugly and despicable” I have plenty of information that dismisses any notion that the company had little knowledge of the potential risks associated with pumping this toxic crap into homes. You obviously haven’t been affected? I’d suggest you may well be in a very small minority of people who would offer any support to this company.

Mr Fluffy is NOT a victim.

He may not be a victim, but as JC says “He was installing a product that at the time was legal and a very valid and good way of insulating a house”.

By your logic every service station and bottle shop are also “ugly and despicable”. Tobacco and booze kill.

Pull your head in.

Marcus Paul 11:42 am 17 Jul 15

“Why is Mr Fluffy ugly and despicable. He was installing a product that at the time was legal and a very valid and good way of insulating a house. The fact it has since turned out to be such a disaster hardly warrants character assassination of this type against the guy (who has passed away) who ran the business and has no place in any rational discussion or debate about the issue”

Really JC? I haven’t named the owner personally. The fact remains this product and the foul legacy it has left on our city is “ugly and despicable” I have plenty of information that dismisses any notion that the company had little knowledge of the potential risks associated with pumping this toxic crap into homes. You obviously haven’t been affected? I’d suggest you may well be in a very small minority of people who would offer any support to this company.

Mr Fluffy is NOT a victim.

watto23 11:00 am 17 Jul 15

I completely understand why people could and would be upset by their options. But they also have to keep in mind, that their neighbours are also at risk of the asbestos, if any got out into the air. So demolishing is obviously the best option. However at the same time, why should taxpayers money build them a brand new house netting the owners a financial gain?
An option the government could have given owners would be to pay to demolish and clean the site only and owners can then rebuild or sell the land themselves.
And the government is still going to lose money on this, they are not making money, just recouping some where they subdivide the blocks. In some areas I dare say multiple houses next to each other will be turned into medium density, thus providing a net gain in housing which is also a good thing in Canberra. The valuations also for Mr Fluffy owners seem to be quite generous as well and probably more than what a private sale would get.

I agree its hard to remove the emotions, but you almost have to, to be completely fair to everyone.

pajs 10:55 am 17 Jul 15

JC said :

Why is Mr Fluffy ugly and despicable. He was installing a product that at the time was legal and a very valid and good way of insulating a house. The fact it has since turned out to be such a disaster hardly warrants character assassination of this type against the guy (who has passed away) who ran the business and has no place in any rational discussion or debate about the issue.

Agree. It’s the regulators that failed (the Cth), not the fault of the installer. The science was there, recommendations were made as early as 1968 that the Cth should ban the use of asbestos insulation, but government was too slow to act.

JC 10:36 am 17 Jul 15

Why is Mr Fluffy ugly and despicable. He was installing a product that at the time was legal and a very valid and good way of insulating a house. The fact it has since turned out to be such a disaster hardly warrants character assassination of this type against the guy (who has passed away) who ran the business and has no place in any rational discussion or debate about the issue.

Holden Caulfield 10:35 am 17 Jul 15

How have they turned on each other? What are the victims fighting about?

vintage123 7:35 am 17 Jul 15

Whenever money is involved, people tend to go crazy.

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