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Mr Fluffy – a Parallel

By John Hargreaves - 8 December 2014 22

asbestos-stock-071214

I got a call from a bloke recently about the plight of someone he knows that has a Mr Fluffy House. He was seeking information on a particular problem facing his friend and didn’t know where to go. I gave him a few ideas.
His issue was that his friend had to rent a house while when his was demolished until he could get into another one, whether it be the same block or another home altogether, neither of which materialise overnight. That wasn’t the issue but finding a rental property where he could take his pair of dogs was. Landlords aren’t all that amenable when it comes to pets.

I remembered that similar problems occurred when people had to find another home whilst rebuilding after the 2003 bushfires.

We remember the trauma the fires themselves delivered but also we remember in the recovery stage, attention was paid to the unique circumstances the 500 families faced. We arranged counselling, gave financial assistance and a range of supports to enable folks to be rehoused temporarily and to get on with their own particular recovery.
Similar circumstances are in play now.

Thanks to the Mr Fluffy debacle, families are traumatised at the idea of losing their beloved homes. This time it is over 1,000 families.

They face the same problems. We need to bring the same solutions to their doorsteps.

Interestingly, a fire is a natural disaster and the feds came to the party in part. This time the best they can do is a low interest loan. Wow, such generosity. Talk about abrogation of culpability!

When self-government was forced on the ACT, the financial handout from the Commonwealth to pay for whole of life costs of assets was minimal, actually nil. The assets of government housing were transferred to the ACT but through a loan to be paid back over many years.

The transfer of governance was accompanied by an abrogation of financial responsibility for the ongoing costs of running the Territory.

So why am I surprised to see the Commonwealth’s attitude to the Mr Fluffy problem. The issue was on their watch. They should be accepting of their responsibility in this regard. The ACT Government should be responsible for the personal welfare of the victims and the Commonwealth should pay for the bricks and mortar rehabilitation of those families.

All this has been said before but the conversation with this bloke brought the 2003 bushfire experience back to me.

What’s Your opinion?


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22 Responses to
Mr Fluffy – a Parallel
creative_canberran 5:54 pm 07 Jul 15

JC said :

creative_canberran said :

The Commonwealth should have significant responsibility for ignoring warnings and permitting the issue to arise. However John, do not forget that it was the ACT Labor Government that chose the method of remediation that means we now have this issue again to deal with. And the ACT signs a document in which it accepted responsibility for the design and implementation for the remediation.

Your party is just as responsible for this mess as the Commonwealth.

I think you will find that the re-mediation method was chosen by the Commonwealth task force that was established to kick off the Mr Fluffy clean-up before being handed over to the then new ACT Government to run.

No, it wasn’t. The Commonwealth’s involvement went no further than the audit and deciding the subsequent funding model.

Perhaps your confusion is because even after the ACT took over, the staff responsible formerly with the Commonwealth carried on under ACT authority.

dungfungus 11:58 am 07 Jul 15

JC said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

creative_canberran said :

The Commonwealth should have significant responsibility for ignoring warnings and permitting the issue to arise. However John, do not forget that it was the ACT Labor Government that chose the method of remediation that means we now have this issue again to deal with. And the ACT signs a document in which it accepted responsibility for the design and implementation for the remediation.

Your party is just as responsible for this mess as the Commonwealth.

I think you will find that the re-mediation method was chosen by the Commonwealth task force that was established to kick off the Mr Fluffy clean-up before being handed over to the then new ACT Government to run. Though yes it was a Labor Federal government.

Apart from pety point scoring don’t see what the issue is about what happened in the past and who was or wasn’t in power. At the time the Commonwealth took responsibility and in conjunction with the new ACT Government did what they though was a) reasonable and b) would clean up the mess.

It has since been found to not be the case and needs fixing and the the current Federal government is doing bugger all to help. End of story.

“…….the current Federal government is doing bugger all to help……….”
Thank goodness you don’t get involved with petty point scoring.

Statement of fact there Dunfingus not point scoring. A well documented one too.

What happened 25+ years ago however is irrelevant and point scoring because the Federal government DID help and did what all the experts thought was reasonable. No arguments, ifs or buts.

You are too modest, JC.

Maya123 11:11 am 07 Jul 15

When the lose asbestos was being removed from houses years ago, I was very sceptical. I thought what about all the asbestos that has fallen down the wall cavities? How can they get it all? I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to buy a house that had had lose asbestos, as I didn’t believe it could have all been removed. It’s so sad that people weren’t warned they were buying houses still with lose asbestos. Lives disrupted. Sad.
When this is all ‘finished’ with, I think the next thing to look at are asbestos roofs. At least fibro walls are painted, keeping the fibres in, if not disturbed, but most roofs are not; plus they get hit by hail, etc in a way that the walls don’t. I know someone who had one of these roofs cleaned, before painting. Apparently the garden was covered in white fibres after. So these roofs apparently can’t be painted like the walls and covered up, as they must be cleaned first, so the paint doesn’t flake off. And if paint can flack off, so can the asbestos. We have a lot of asbestos roofs in the ACT, but I imagine this should be a simpler problem to remedy than lose asbestos.

JC 10:24 am 07 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

JC said :

creative_canberran said :

The Commonwealth should have significant responsibility for ignoring warnings and permitting the issue to arise. However John, do not forget that it was the ACT Labor Government that chose the method of remediation that means we now have this issue again to deal with. And the ACT signs a document in which it accepted responsibility for the design and implementation for the remediation.

Your party is just as responsible for this mess as the Commonwealth.

I think you will find that the re-mediation method was chosen by the Commonwealth task force that was established to kick off the Mr Fluffy clean-up before being handed over to the then new ACT Government to run. Though yes it was a Labor Federal government.

Apart from pety point scoring don’t see what the issue is about what happened in the past and who was or wasn’t in power. At the time the Commonwealth took responsibility and in conjunction with the new ACT Government did what they though was a) reasonable and b) would clean up the mess.

It has since been found to not be the case and needs fixing and the the current Federal government is doing bugger all to help. End of story.

“…….the current Federal government is doing bugger all to help……….”
Thank goodness you don’t get involved with petty point scoring.

Statement of fact there Dunfingus not point scoring. A well documented one too.

What happened 25+ years ago however is irrelevant and point scoring because the Federal government DID help and did what all the experts thought was reasonable. No arguments, ifs or buts.

rubaiyat 9:12 am 07 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

Thank goodness you don’t get involved with petty point scoring.

Worried about a little competition?

dungfungus 8:14 am 07 Jul 15

JC said :

creative_canberran said :

The Commonwealth should have significant responsibility for ignoring warnings and permitting the issue to arise. However John, do not forget that it was the ACT Labor Government that chose the method of remediation that means we now have this issue again to deal with. And the ACT signs a document in which it accepted responsibility for the design and implementation for the remediation.

Your party is just as responsible for this mess as the Commonwealth.

I think you will find that the re-mediation method was chosen by the Commonwealth task force that was established to kick off the Mr Fluffy clean-up before being handed over to the then new ACT Government to run. Though yes it was a Labor Federal government.

Apart from pety point scoring don’t see what the issue is about what happened in the past and who was or wasn’t in power. At the time the Commonwealth took responsibility and in conjunction with the new ACT Government did what they though was a) reasonable and b) would clean up the mess.

It has since been found to not be the case and needs fixing and the the current Federal government is doing bugger all to help. End of story.

“…….the current Federal government is doing bugger all to help……….”
Thank goodness you don’t get involved with petty point scoring.

rubaiyat 11:15 pm 06 Jul 15

rommeldog56 said :

1. Zed is MA on this and also on uts to the APS, etc.

Abbott didn’t want him in the Senate so he wont want to rock that boat too much I would think.

2. Self Gov’t was forced on the ACT & the associated minimual financial handout – by the then Commonwealth Labor Gov’t as I recall.

3. Re the low interest loan.

Given the current Lib Commonwealth Gov’t – I dunno what more anyone could have expected in reality.

Agree its pathetic.

4. Was the low interest loan “negotiated” and agreed between the Feds & the ACT Gov’t ? Or was it a take it or leave it offer by the Feds ? I dont really hear the ACT Gov’t attacking the Feds about it too often.

5. Is it not the ACT Gov’t “rules” on how the loan $ are to be allocated, that is as much an issue as the Feds offer of a capped low interest loan. eg. If you can afford to buy back your block/part hereof and build again, there is apparently no offer of compo if you have to rent for 18 months or so. Plus the inevitably higher cost of building because of the artificially high demand. Thats hopeless.

6. Will be interesting how the separate legal actions by Fluffy owners against the Feds goes. I’m sort of surprised that the ACT Gov’t hasnt been included in that because by their own admission, they knew about this problem about 8 years or so ago, but did nothing.

At the end of the day, its the poor Fluffy owners who are hurt – those responsible get away scott free.

If you are always so keen to finger the “Original Sin” why are you ignoring that Mr Fluffy happened under the federal Liberal Government of the day, despite the problem of asbestosis was already well known for decades before that.

JC 10:20 pm 06 Jul 15

creative_canberran said :

The Commonwealth should have significant responsibility for ignoring warnings and permitting the issue to arise. However John, do not forget that it was the ACT Labor Government that chose the method of remediation that means we now have this issue again to deal with. And the ACT signs a document in which it accepted responsibility for the design and implementation for the remediation.

Your party is just as responsible for this mess as the Commonwealth.

I think you will find that the re-mediation method was chosen by the Commonwealth task force that was established to kick off the Mr Fluffy clean-up before being handed over to the then new ACT Government to run. Though yes it was a Labor Federal government.

Apart from pety point scoring don’t see what the issue is about what happened in the past and who was or wasn’t in power. At the time the Commonwealth took responsibility and in conjunction with the new ACT Government did what they though was a) reasonable and b) would clean up the mess.

It has since been found to not be the case and needs fixing and the the current Federal government is doing bugger all to help. End of story.

rommeldog56 6:41 pm 06 Jul 15

creative_canberran said :

The Commonwealth should have significant responsibility for ignoring warnings and permitting the issue to arise. However John, do not forget that it was the ACT Labor Government that chose the method of remediation that means we now have this issue again to deal with. And the ACT signs a document in which it accepted responsibility for the design and implementation for the remediation.

Your party is just as responsible for this mess as the Commonwealth.

Plus it was Katy Gallagher, ex Chief Minister, who admitted that about 10 years ago when she was Housing Minister in the then ACT Labor Gov’t, that she largely did not action warnings about the impending Mr Fluffy issue.

If those warnings (from independent Consultants as I recall) had of been actioned and treated with the attention they deserved, then the deal the ACT Gov’t might have got from a Federal Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Labor Gov’t might have been quite a bit better than the one they signed up to with the Federal Abbott Liberal Gov’t.

Alexandra Craig 5:10 pm 06 Jul 15

rommeldog56 said :

4. Was the low interest loan “negotiated” and agreed between the Feds & the ACT Gov’t ? Or was it a take it or leave it offer by the Feds ? I dont really hear the ACT Gov’t attacking the Feds about it too often.

I could be wrong, but I have recollections of the then-Chief Minister Katy Gallagher in a press conference saying words to the effect of it being a take it or leave it deal from the Commonwealth.

creative_canberran 4:51 pm 06 Jul 15

The Commonwealth should have significant responsibility for ignoring warnings and permitting the issue to arise. However John, do not forget that it was the ACT Labor Government that chose the method of remediation that means we now have this issue again to deal with. And the ACT signs a document in which it accepted responsibility for the design and implementation for the remediation.

Your party is just as responsible for this mess as the Commonwealth.

emilyjrooney 4:04 pm 06 Jul 15

Hi John, it is great to bring attention to this and I think it is important that we bring BETTER solutions to their doorsteps.

After the 2003 fires I started a community project to called ‘Suddenly Homeless’ which aims to connect people at different stages of rebuilding their home and life after a disaster or crisis.

There is an instant comradely and solidarity between survivors and it is valuable for them to connect for support, understanding and inspiration.

For anyone interested more information can be found at: http://www.suddenlyhomeless.com

Cheers,
Emily

HiddenDragon 5:43 pm 08 Dec 14

“The transfer of governance was accompanied by an abrogation of financial responsibility for the ongoing costs of running the Territory. “

Yes – saving money for the federal budget was a primary motivation (whatever the talk about democracy, treating Canberrans like the rest of Australia etc. etc.) and the fiscal pigeons are coming home to roost in increasing numbers as time rolls on.

It’s an unpleasant fact of life for Canberrans, and won’t change – unless, perhaps, we learn the art of swing voting from our canny neighbours in Eden Monaro. It’s also a compelling reason why we need to be very sober and pragmatic about ACT Government spending – we really do have quite limited means.

rommeldog56 1:38 pm 08 Dec 14

1. Zed is MA on this and also on uts to the APS, etc. Abbott didn’t want him in the Senate so he wont want to rock that boat too much I would think.

2. Self Gov’t was forced on the ACT & the associated minimual financial handout – by the then Commonwealth Labor Gov’t as I recall.

3. Re the low interest loan. Given the current Lib Commonwealth Gov’t – I dunno what more anyone could have expected in reality. Agree its pathetic.

4. Was the low interest loan “negotiated” and agreed between the Feds & the ACT Gov’t ? Or was it a take it or leave it offer by the Feds ? I dont really hear the ACT Gov’t attacking the Feds about it too often.

5. Is it not the ACT Gov’t “rules” on how the loan $ are to be allocated, that is as much an issue as the Feds offer of a capped low interest loan. eg. If you can afford to buy back your block/part hereof and build again, there is apparently no offer of compo if you have to rent for 18 months or so. Plus the inevitably higher cost of building because of the artificially high demand. Thats hopeless.

6. Will be interesting how the separate legal actions by Fluffy owners against the Feds goes. I’m sort of surprised that the ACT Gov’t hasnt been included in that because by their own admission, they knew about this problem about 8 years or so ago, but did nothing.

At the end of the day, its the poor Fluffy owners who are hurt – those responsible get away scott free.

mikal 9:17 am 08 Dec 14

Where is Zed on this? Shouldn’t he be advocating for his constituents inside the Commonwealth apparatus?

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