Page 251 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 February 2016

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MR WALL: Minister, has your directorate raised with you any disciplinary action against the CFMEU following evidence presented at the royal commission?


Asbestos—task force

MS BURCH: My question is to the minister for planning. Can the minister update the Assembly on the asbestos task force response, including support for homeowners and the number who have transitioned through the scheme?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Burch for her question and her interest in the ongoing work of the asbestos task force. The government is looking to assist the Mr Fluffy homeowners in our community as much as possible. Fluffy is an issue impacting on our city like no other. With 1,022 affected houses across 56 of our suburbs, in a city like ours we all know of at least one person personally affected by this issue. It has also been a regular topic of discussion in this place—indeed this morning—as well as in broader community.

Madam Speaker, as you are aware, the government regularly provides updates to members on the progress of the buyback and demolition program through its quarterly reports, the most recent of which will be tabled next week. The task force also provides comprehensive information on the program to owners and the broader community through its multiple communication channels. I am pleased, however, to provide a summary.

As at today there are 971 owners who have accepted offers through the voluntary buyback program, totalling more than $700 million. This is a significant undertaking of support that I think we have never seen before in the ACT or, indeed, other parts of our country. As of today 816 of these properties have been surrendered to the government and 77 properties have been demolished. The government’s advice to owners is not to live in these properties, and the very nature of the buyback program was designed to enable owners to move quickly to safer accommodation.

We are, however, in doing this, absorbing significant maintenance and holding costs on these properties. That is why I moved earlier today—and reiterate the need for it now—DV343. In choosing to do so, it is having a considerable impact not only on homeowners seeking certainty in the repurchase prices for their blocks but also on the broader community through ongoing costs to the program. We know 859 owners have permanently vacated their properties with financial support provided in the form of relocation assistance of over $10 million. More than 540 owners have also exercised a stamp duty concession. That support was $12.9 million.

The task force has been intensively working to support owners through what has been a challenging time for them and we will continue to do so as we move into the next phases of the response, the demolition and subsequent resale of the remediated blocks. In 2015 the target of 50 demolitions was exceeded by the task force, and industry continues to gear up to respond to this significant capital works undertaking: to

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