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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1686 ..


I am pleased to present the Loose-fill Asbestos Legislation Amendment Bill 2021. This bill makes amendments to allow the eradication of loose-fill asbestos insulation from Canberra homes to continue beyond closure of the Loose-Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme Buyback Program on 17 August 2021.

Since the introduction of the scheme in 2014, the ACT government has provided a mechanism for home owners whose properties are affected by loose-fill asbestos to consider options available to them in managing their properties. The scheme was developed to address the risks to the Canberra community of the continuing presence of loose-fill asbestos insulation in more than 1,000 homes across Canberra.

As at the end of April 2021, 992 of the 1,027 affected Canberra properties identified as containing, or having once contained, loose-fill asbestos insulation have been demolished, both within the scheme and privately. Of the 35 properties remaining on the Affected Residential Premises Register, 11 have been surrendered to the territory with demolition planning underway. The goal of eradicating loose-fill asbestos from the ACT community can only be achieved when every affected property has been safely demolished.

The effect of the bill amends the definition of “buyback scheme” within the Civil Law (Sales of Residential Property) Act 2003, the Dangerous Substances Act 2004, the Government Agencies (Land Acquisition Reporting) Regulation of 2019 and the definition of “loose-fill asbestos insulation eradication buyback program” in the Planning and Development Regulation 2008, so that these definitions no longer refer to the Appropriation (Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication) Act 2014-2015. The appropriation act provides funding for the buyback program until 17 August 2021. From 18 August 2021, all financial and budget implications for any newly identified properties that participate in the scheme will be funded through existing budgetary mechanisms.

Since the announcement of the scheme in 2014, five additional Canberra properties have been identified as affected by loose-fill asbestos insulation. The five properties contained loose-fill asbestos insulation in only part of their roof cavity. It is understood that in addition to Mr Fluffy installing loose-fill asbestos by blowing it into entire roof cavities, bags of loose-fill asbestos were available for purchase and were used either as stand-alone insulation or mixed with other insulation products. These were typically installed by home owners or other tradespeople. It is possible that there could be additional affected properties in Canberra’s older suburbs that are yet to be identified as containing loose-fill asbestos insulation.

By providing that the funding arrangements are no longer associated with the appropriation act, the bill supports the ongoing effect of the scheme and the buyback program for affected properties identified after 17 August 2021.

Not continuing a buyback program for properties identified as affected by loose-fill asbestos insulation after 17 August 2021 would be inconsistent with the government’s commitment to eradicate loose-fill asbestos from the ACT residential community. We must remain vigilant in identifying any further affected properties and act to ensure that the health of the community is protected.


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