Page 2289 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2016

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Given the one-off size and cost of the scheme in the context of the territory’s budget, and also the impact of the Mr Fluffy legacy on affected families and households and Canberra as a community, the committee considered that it was important to monitor progress on implementation of the scheme. Accordingly the committee resolved, on 10 March 2015, to inquire into all tabled quarterly progress reports and report to the Assembly on any items or matters in those reports, or any circumstances connected with them, to which the committee was of the opinion that the attention of the Assembly should be directed, and any other relevant matter.

Since commencing its inquiry, the committee has been in a position to consider five quarterly reports. In response, along with its report today, the committee has made two 246A statements relating to matters arising in these reports. In the report today, the committee has made seven recommendations. I will make a few brief comments this morning as they relate to those recommendations.

Three recommendations are concerned with improving the timeliness and consistency of reporting and the usefulness of performance information in the quarterly reports. Two recommendations are focused on the change in process for clearing affected blocks. One recommendation asks the responsible minister to update the Assembly by the last sitting day in August 2016 as to the (i) latest developments concerning the claims of theft from affected properties; and (ii) the impact that the closure of the west Belconnen resource centre for five days in June this year, due to heavy rain, may have had on the demolition program. Finally, one recommendation asks the government to consider finalising its response to Auditor-General’s report No 4 of 2016, The management of the financial arrangements for the delivery of the loose-fill asbestos (Mr Fluffy) insulation eradication scheme, before the commencement of the caretaker period.

In concluding, I would like to thank my committee colleagues, Ms Burch, Mr Hinder and Mr Coe; and the former chair, Mr Smyth, and other former members of the committee under whom this inquiry commenced. And I very much thank the committee secretariat.

The Mr Fluffy legacy is not just about the past; it is about the present and the future lives of many people: affected families and households, but also Canberra as a community. Members of the committee and members of the Assembly generally, I am sure, will remember the sometimes harrowing but always very genuine anguish of people who appeared before the committee in its inquiry back nearly two years ago. These are people whose lives have been disrupted in a way that many of us would struggle to understand. We heard from families whose children were born in those homes, whose children were married in the homes, who had beloved pets buried in the garden. It was a very moving experience.

It is right and proper that the Assembly monitors the quarterly reports and that the government provides a response to the PAC inquiry into those reports.

Given the impact of this legacy of the Mr Fluffy scheme, successful implementation of the scheme will be paramount in determining how those affected families and households, and Canberra as a whole, can move forward now and into the future. I commend the report to the Assembly.

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