ACT News

Sixteen Fluffy offers accepted, signalling the buyback has begun

Sixteen Mr Fluffy homeowners have accepted the Government's sale offer for their asbestos-contaminated homes, as the $1 billion buyback is finally underway. The amounts ranged from the mid-$400,000s to $2.5 million.

But many homeowners are still bearing the weight of stress, uncertainty and confusion.

The Asbestos Taskforce is working to exchange contracts on the 16 homes to accept an offer in the coming days.

A taskforce spokesperson said it had made 32 offers to home owners to date.

Taskforce head Andrew Kefford expected the government to own at least four by Christmas. 

The sales signal that the details of the scheme are now finalised, despite anger from some in the Fluffy community who want to keep their land.


Mr Kefford said he didn't expect any changes to the scheme, "partly because we've already agreed to buy 16 houses".

"I think it's really important now that there's certainty. We understand and accept there are people that are not entirely happy with what has been offered. It's time for us to continue to move through...and accommodate those within the confinements of whats been settled."

The tension was clear at a public forum held by the Asbestos Taskforce on Thursday night at Lake Tuggeranong College, where close to 250 mostly homeowners peppered presenters with questions about the valuation process and broader buyback scheme, among a number of issues.

The start of the forums coincided with a splintering of community groups and acrimonious infighting on social media.

The strongest response followed one resident concerned about being "talked at" as a victim in need of support, who also questioned the divide between the current buyback scheme and the "smart" people who demolished their homes before October 28. 

"I'm a Mr Fluffy owner and I am not ashamed of it. I am not a victim," she said.

Another resident spoke of the taskforce's patronising tone: "It has to come back to the fact that none of us wanted this in the first place".

Mr Kefford apologised for any offence caused Mr Fluffy families and said any heightened anger and frustration would not impact on the taskforce's role to help 1021 families as individuals.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr told the Assembly on Thursday that he would continue "listening to homeowners, being flexible, and recognising the range of individual circumstances.

But with the sales underway, the Government looks highly unlikely to offer a different deal to home owners who sign up later. Former chief minister Katy Gallagher has already indicated that once sales begin, the terms of the buyback can't be changed.  

Mr Barr assured homeowners that they had "not lost a chief minister who cares" and said they had also gained a new senator, in the form of Ms Gallagher, "who understands". But in another signal of an unwillingness to increase the costs of the Fluffy buyback, already contributing to a soaring deficit, he said he remained "very conscious of the general good of the whole community". 

The Government is offering homeowners the mid-point of two independent valuations, which are being coordinated by the Australian Property Institute.

Institute president Paul Powderly said two valuations had been done for 85 homes so far. The two valuations had differed by more than 10 per cent in just one case, for a house that was midway through a renovation making it more complicated to value. If valuations differed by more than 10 per cent, the taskforce expects to get a third valuation before making an offer to the owner.

Mr Powderly said valuers would complete about 200 homes, perhaps a few more, by Christmas.

The taskforce has received close to 700 applications to participate in the buyback scheme.

Mr Powderly said  an influx of priority jobs and the Christmas shutdown had sparked some gaps between inspections, which had been the biggest valuation issue among Mr Fluffy residents.