The ACT Government’s Mr Fluffy buyback scheme will be extended to cover properties found to have loose-fill asbestos from 18 August 2021, a day after the original buyback scheme ends.
The new scheme will replace the old one that was introduced in 2014, the only difference being the new scheme will not apply to houses already found to have loose-fill asbestos.
More than 1000 houses were identified for acquisition and demolition, and a further five have been discovered since the start of the scheme.
A handful of owners chose not to participate in the scheme, preferring to remain in their homes. Homeowners who chose not to sign up to the existing scheme will be ineligible for the new scheme after mid-August.
Sustainable Building and Construction Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said these homeowners will face the compulsory acquisition of Mr Fluffy blocks from 2025, but they will still have access to some government assistance to transition from their homes.
“We will work very closely with households to ensure that they are looked after,” she said.
Almost all of the 1027 affected Canberra properties had been demolished by the end of April this year. Of the 35 that have not yet been knocked down, 11 have been surrendered to the ACT and demolition planning is underway.
A further 14 are set to be surrender to the government.
Ms Vassarotti introduced amendments into the Legislative Assembly on Thursday (3 June) to allow newly identified properties that participate in the scheme to be funded through existing budgetary mechanisms.
Ms Vassarotti said the scheme was still needed to ensure the ACT could eradicate all loose-fill asbestos from the community in a safe manner.
“The scheme was developed to address the risks to the Canberra community of the continuing presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation in more than 1000 homes across Canberra,” Ms Vassarotti told the Assembly.
“Since the introduction of the scheme, the ACT Government has provided a mechanism for homeowners whose properties are affected by loose-fill asbestos to consider options available to them in managing their properties.
“Not continuing the scheme to newly-identified properties … would be inconsistent with the government’s commitment to eradicate loose-fill asbestos from the ACT residential community.”
The extension of the buyback scheme was announced a month after the Federal Government agreed to an $8 million fund that will help cover medical expenses for victims of loose-fill asbestos insulation.
The ACT Government will match the federal government’s contribution to assist individuals and their families who may contract mesothelioma over the coming years from exposure to loose-fill asbestos in former Mr Fluffy homes.
An initial cleanup of the loose-fill asbestos first occurred in the 1980s but a demolition scheme was not put in place until 2014 when the ACT Government and Commonwealth negotiated the scheme after recognising that many homes still contained asbestos fibres.