ACT News

ACT Chief Minister Gallagher urges Tony Abbott to make decision in Mr Fluffy crisis

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has urged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to make a decision on the Mr Fluffy crisis, as the 1000 homeowners remain in limbo a full nine months after they discovered the homes were potentially unsafe to live in.

Ms Gallagher has now raised the issue directly with Mr Abbott "to let him know that there's a lot of worried people siting in homes that need some certainty about their future", she said.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has urged Mr Abbott to make a decision.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has urged Mr Abbott to make a decision. Photo: Rohan Thomson

She also spoke again with the office of Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz last week.

"I was seeking assurances that the processes were tracking along," she said. "From my point of view, the message was time is of the essence, people are anxious. I'm very conscious of that, and people would like a decision about how the joint governments are going to respond."

She believed a federal Cabinet submission was still being finalised. She was confident a decision would be made "fairly soon", but this side of Christmas was still the most realistic timetable.

Mr Abbott had told her he was aware of the issue and the need to make a quick decision, and undertook to speak to Senator Abetz.

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Meanwhile, more than 40 homeowners have been forced out of their homes because of dangerous levels of asbestos contamination and are  living in rented accommodation, some on their second emergency grant from the ACT Government. To date, about $1.4 million had been handed out in help to Fluffy owners, Ms Gallagher said.

Homeowners are also confused about whether they will be allowed to keep furniture and belongings, with suggestions soft furnishings will have to be destroyed. But as the uncertainty stretches on, it is clear many furnishings and belongings from Fluffy homes,  not only since the crisis began in February but over the 40 years since the Fluffy asbestos was installed, have made their way into the wider community.

Ms Gallagher said she was seeking a briefing next week from the ACT asbestos taskforce on the question of furniture and belongings, and on other "challenging" issues.

But to date, she had  no advice to suggest she should stop possessions being removed from homes.

Her priority was to get a decision made so such issues could be resolved, she said. 

"This uncertainly creates issues, so the sooner we can get a response from the Commonwealth, the sooner we can let homeowners know what's going to happen, the better, because then we can wrap around processes to ensure that, as much as we can, we minimise risks to everybody."

The expectation is that the governments will announce a buy-back and demolition of the 1000 Fluffy homes, a scheme expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, some of which Ms Gallagher hopes to recoup through the re-sale of land.