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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (29 October) . .

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MADAM SPEAKER: I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of members of the University of the Third Age, who are here as part of the education program. Welcome to your Assembly.

Questions without notice

Asbestos—loose-fill insulation

DR BOURKE: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, yesterday you informed the Assembly of the detail of the commonwealth government's offer of a $1 billion concessional loan to allow the government to commence the buyback of the Mr Fluffy homes. Can you advise the Assembly of the reaction of Mr Fluffy home owners to this news?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Dr Bourke for the question. There has been, it is fair to say, a range of reactions to this news, and we expected this would be the case. As I said yesterday in this place, it was regrettable the way the announcement played out early yesterday morning, with the early announcement of an agreement that had yet to be reached. I hoped to be able to give all the home owners some more notice so that they could have prepared for such significant news. However, that was not to be the case. I know that a lot of government MLAs, myself and no doubt opposition MLAs, have received numerous emails in response to yesterday's announcement, and calls. We have also heard a number of the reactions on radio or read about them in the paper or online media.

It is fair to say that some home owners are incredibly relieved and some are very sad. Some are angry, and there is understandable concern and a desire for more information. During yesterday and into the night, we worked really hard—and all credit should go to staff in the task force, staff in Treasury and staff in Chief Minister's—to get out as much policy detail of our planned buyback and demolition program as possible in order to answer some of the many questions that came flooding in.

We are acutely aware that these are family homes, and some have been so for many decades. And for everybody, this is a really difficult and emotional time. I am also aware of those who want to stay on their block and are concerned about their options to stay and rebuild. The scheme as it is designed now is to give a fair market value, as if there were no Mr Fluffy present. We have made a difficult decision to offer fairness while establishing a scheme that can be afforded.

The main issue of concern that has been raised by home owners is their desire to return to their blocks. In terms of making sure that we had a scheme that was able to be operated—that is, that we could go forward with a scheme, considering we are not getting financial assistance for the net cost of the scheme from the commonwealth—the scheme as it is designed now is really the only one that the ACT government and the ACT community can afford.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

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