We’ve been left high and dry by the Federal Government when it comes to Mr Fluffy asbestos.

Mr Fluffy asbestos was installed in Canberra houses when we were under Federal Government control. There was no such thing as an ACT Government back then, but our little ‘tin pot town council’ is going to have to carry the can after the Feds ignored what I think should have been a moral responsibility and put forward this pathetic loan proposal.

They’re going to help us a tiny bit…but not much. They’re kindly allowing us to borrow a billion dollars from them which we’ll have to pay back over 10 years.

Now, granted, much of the repayments will come from ACT Government onselling the land, but I don’t think that’s the point.  I think this should have been a genuine partnership in terms of sharing the cost.  It’s not.

I spoke to Senator Eric Abetz about it this morning.  He continues to cling to the fact that there the Commonwealth has no legal responsibility here.  It’s not about legal responsibility, this is about moral responsibility.  Have a listen to what was said this morning. 

I spoke to a number of Mr Fluffy owners this morning. They were most disappointed with the Federal Government, but also displeased with the ACT Government is offering.

Mr Fluffy owners received a lengthy email in the early hours of this morning.  It contained some of the details of what lays ahead.  This was a monster email, but here are some of the details.

10. What exactly does a buyback program mean?

The buyback is formalised in a deed between the Territory and the homeowner which sets out the process by which the homeowner surrenders to the Territory their Crown Lease subject to appropriate conditions.

These conditions include payment of a surrender sum which is, in effect, the purchase price for the house and land. The surrender sum is determined independently by professional valuers.

Valuers are selected by the Australian Property Institute ACT Division for their experience and knowledge in particular suburbs, and the valuation process is conducted at the ACT Government’s cost. The process is overseen by the Institute. The surrender sum contains an allowance of $1000 for the homeowner to take independent legal advice on the deed, and includes adjustments for rates and utilities as would occur in a normal house sale.

11. So what will I get if I participate in the scheme?

Under the Buyback Program, on surrender of the Crown lease for the affected block, the Eligible Homeowner will receive:

  • The value of the affected block (house and land) as at28 October including improvements.
  • An additional $1,000 (inclusive of GST) to cover or contribute to legal fees incurred in attending to the surrender.
  • A right to a once only waiver of stamp duty on the next residential property purchased in the ACT by an Eligible Homeowner, up to the equivalent value of the stamp duty payable on the Government’s purchase of the affected house.
  • A first right of refusal to purchase the affected block (at market value, to be determined at the time of purchase) after the house is demolished for their own occupation.
  • Other entitlements and offers as outlined on the Taskforce’s website.

12. So what do I give up?

  • The interest in the affected block is surrendered. You will no longer be the Crown lessee. This means you will no longer own the house and land, or be entitled to live in the house or on the land any longer. The surrender is equivalent to the sale of residential property.
  • You will be required to waive your right to pursue legal action against the Territory and the Commonwealth in relation to the property. This waiver does not include any personal injury (i.e. asbestos related disease of or health claims that you or any other person may have as a result of living in or being exposed to asbestos contamination in the home)

13. Does the Buyback program have an end date?

The buyback offer will close on 30 June 2016. This will enable timely and efficient demolition of affected homes and reduce disruption to the local community. It also gives homeowners the time to seek independent legal advice on their deed, which the ACT Government will support up to $1000.

14. What if I do not want to sell my house to the ACT Government? Will you just take my home anyway?

The Buyback Program seeks to accommodate the individual circumstances of affected individuals and families, including in relation to assistance for those who wish to stay in their homes in the medium term, against the backdrop of the need for all affected houses to be demolished in that same time frame.

With this in mind, compulsory acquisition processes available under ACT legislation are not being undertaken at this stage. The Taskforce is currently investigating, and will provide advice on, regulatory options for intervention where affected homeowners have not accessed the Buyback Program. An interim summary of likely options is outlined in the policy framework.