I have just met with four Canberrans who are 'Mr Fluffy' homeowners. Mr Fluffy was a type of loose-fill asbestos commonly used in the ACT in the late sixties and seventies. From 1988 to 1993, the Commonwealth removed asbestos from more than 1,000 Canberra homes. For a while, we thought that we were rid of Mr Fluffy. However, recently it was found that a number of houses that had had their asbestos removed still contained residual asbestos fibres.
For the families who own these homes, the situation is dire. It is devastating. Many of them had no idea that they were buying Mr Fluffy homes. Some families have now been forced to leave their homes, not knowing if or when they can return. They are grappling with costs in the tens of thousands for testing, removal, temporary accommodation, new clothes and new cars. Their homes cannot be sold or rented.
In fact, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency's Peter Tighe has called for the demolition of all the ACT Mr Fluffy homes. Above all, these families are dreading the health implications. As one constituent said, 'I just can't even bear to think about the health impacts.' This is an issue that predated the ACT's self-government, and the Commonwealth must now accept responsibility and get involved. These families deserve support, compensation and, above all, certainty. They need to be able to sell their houses with a clear conscience. At the moment, that is not possible. I understand there is a meeting between the Commonwealth and the ACT governments, and I strongly urge the Abbott government to accept responsibility.