Greater flexibility needed for Mr Fluffy homeowners

Following two days of hearings and the release of the bipartisan and unanimous committee report into the government’s Mr Fluffy scheme, today the Canberra Liberals will be supporting the government’s appropriation but will urgently call for the scheme to be modified to be fairer and more flexible, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson said today.

“The unanimous report contains over 60 recommendations for changes to this scheme. It would be utterly irresponsible for the government to ignore every recommendation, especially in this case where hundreds of lives have been affected and hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is involved,” Mr Hanson said.

“Mr Fluffy has been a tragedy for hundreds of Canberra families and it’s essential that the government’s buyback and demolition program caters to all those who have been suffering. We recognise and support the need to get the scheme underway for the homeowners who have already signed on, but greater flexibility is needed.

“For many months now I have been meeting with homeowners and hearing their stories, many of which have been harrowing. More recently the Legislative Assembly Inquiry into Mr Fluffy has allowed more owners to tell their stories of financial, health and emotional hardship and how they’ll be adversely impacted by the government’s inflexible scheme.

“I’m calling on the government to offer greater flexibility with regards to:

  • The valuation date of 28 October.
  • Homeowners, particularly the elderly, who wish to stay in their homes over the medium term.
  • Allowing homeowners to purchase their own blocks at a fair price that does not include sub-division or unit titling.
  • Allowing homeowners to maintain ownership of their block but to support them to demolish and rebuild.
  • Individual asbestos management plans for homeowners remaining in their properties for the medium term.

“The government also needs to:

  • Make stamp duty a waiver not a reimbursement so that owners are not faced with the significant upfront cost.
  • Only clear affected areas on blocks where owners wish to return, rather than scrape entire blocks as planned.
  • Provide compensation for homeowners who have inadvertently missed out on the scheme and have suffered financial loss.
  • Waive Variation 306 solar restrictions for affected blocks.
  • Better resource the Asbestos Taskforce to manage the program.
  • Grant a new Crown lease for all properties cleared of Mr Fluffy.
  • Provide clarity of the consequences for homeowners who don’t sign onto the scheme.
  • Provide reasonable compensation for contaminated home contents.
  • Provide additional emergency relief for families in crisis.

“The Mr Fluffy saga has caused enormous stress and financial hardship for many across Canberra, on the scale of which hasn’t been seen since the 2003 bushfires. The government’s scheme cannot simply be a one size fits all approach.

“The government’s plan includes guiding principles including fairness and flexibility and I believe these should be incorporated into the appropriation bill. I will also seek to move an amendment to the appropriation bill itself to allow homeowners to retain ownership of their land,” Mr Hanson concluded.