Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 4 Hansard (24 March) . .
knock on the door, people will have their homes condemned and they will possibly be evicted.
Under those circumstances people are press-ganged into joining the government scheme. It is unfortunate, and illustrative that a number of people, despite that threat, are saying, "No, we are not going to be pressured by this government. We are not going to be press-ganged."
The other significant issue that I think is worth some discussion is this date by which people will be allowed to stay on. The government said five years, and that is not new. The question still remains. It was put forward initially as a 10-year program, but the government is saying that people have to be out within five years, so what has happened to that missing five years, at the outset?
For people who have been in their homes for many years, who are elderly, who have not contracted any disease as a result of the amosite asbestos in their homes, why is there this arbitrary date of 2020? This is the question that they repeatedly ask me: "Why is it that we must be evicted from our home that we have lived in for many years by this arbitrary date? We are suffering no ill effect from asbestos." This is the point that they make, Madam Deputy Speaker: particularly for those people who are elderly, it is likely that they will pass from other ailments or just simply old age before amosite asbestos affects them. The trauma of those people being essentially forced out of their homes, whether they sign on to the scheme or not, will be far worse and have a far more damaging effect on those individuals, potentially, than any threat from asbestosis or mesothelioma.
The question remains: why is the government going to the homes of people that have been there for decades, where they have had no ill effect from asbestosis and are saying, "We want to stay in these houses. We want to stay in our homes," and saying, "That is not an option. We are going to evict you"? That is the consequence of this program and the looming threat from the government.
The consequence for those people in their 70s, 80s or 90s, as they get forced out of those homes that many of them have lived in for almost all of their lives, is: where do they go? For many of them, essentially they are rendered homeless and now are looking for somewhere else to live. And they will be displaced from their communities. Even those elderly people who are prepared to rent or to stay somewhere else for the intervening period—a year, two years, three years or whatever it is that it takes to demolish the home and clear it—will not be in a position to buy back that land because it will be too expensive for them to do so. Even if they were to find the extra money to buy back that property, they are going to be asked in their 80s to rebuild a property on that block.
It is an unrealistic scenario and an unfair scenario, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that you and other members across the chamber have heard these stories. They agreed with the situation and put that into the public accounts committee report. We still do not have a satisfactory explanation from the government as to why this government wants to go to elderly people, the most vulnerable people in our community in many cases, and force them out of their homes unnecessarily. It is cruel, it is punitive and it is certainly not fair or flexible, as this government purports it to be.
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