Council gives assistance to Fluffy owners

30 July 2015

Council is offering assistance to families who are eligible to rebuild their homes under the NSW Government’s proposed voluntary buy back scheme for owners affected Mr Fluffy.

Mr Fluffy was the nickname for a type of loose-fill asbestos insulation which was used by a Canberra company in the 1960s and 1970s, as insulation. If inhaled loose-fill asbestos can have serious health impacts including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. The company was known to operate in Queanbeyan and over the past year Queanbeyan residents have been offered the opportunity to have their properties tested for the substance.

A number of Queanbeyan residents and Queanbeyan Council gave evidence to the NSW Government Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce last November, when it conducted hearings in Queanbeyan. The taskforce submitted its Final Report to the NSW Government in early June.

The taskforce report contained 13 recommendations including the introduction of a voluntary purchase/demolition program - all 13 recommendations have been accepted by the NSW Government.

As a result NSW property owners who have Mr Fluffy in their homes may be eligible to take up one of two options:

  • NSW Government purchase of premises and land
  • NSW Government Purchase of premises only

The final details of how the buy-back schemes will work is yet to be finalised by the NSW Government but is expected to be announced later this year.

In the interim Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall said affected home owners were looking to Council to provide some assistance in a number of areas. He said Queanbeyan Council has agreed to:

  • To provide rates relief for tenanted properties which have remained vacant due to the presence of asbestos, which has created difficult and financial hardship for owners. These owners may now make an application for deferment of rates through Council’s hardship policy.
  • That once the owners have entered into an agreement with the NSW Government for Option 2, that is, purchase of house only/demolition program, that the land be rated as vacant land and charges for services such as waste and sewer use are reduced to vacant land category during the demolition and construction process.
  • That under Option 2 of the NSW Government purchase/demolition program, Council waives the development application, drainage fee and notification fee for construction of a new dwelling by the current owner of the land.

Mayor Overall said Council will also approach the State Government about waiving the long service levy and planning levy fees payable for the DAs for rebuilding a replacement dwelling house under Option 2 for the current owner of the land.

“Council staff are writing to the owners of the properties affected by Mr Fluffy loose fill asbestos in Queanbeyan to let them know of Council’s decision and what they can now do. I hope Council’s decision helps these residents at a difficult time.” 

Anyone with questions about the fees should call Council on 6285 8000.

Free testing to see if your home may contain loose fill asbestos insulation is still available. Call WorkCover NSW on 13 77 88.