Greater Hume Shire says loose fill asbestos compensation falls short

Anger has erupted over loose-fill asbestos compensation claim guidelines across Holbrook.  

According to the Greater Hume Shire’s interpretation of the state-government’s guidelines, only affected property owners aiming to rebuild will be able to meet the stringent conditions.

Frustrations over the fine print details exploded at a meeting on Wednesday night.

Less than half of the 38 impacted properties in the shire will be in line for compensation, according to the mayor.

Councillor Healther Wilton said there could be as few as 10 to 12 properties eligible.

As a Holbrook resident, Cr Wilton said the situation was “harrowing”. 

Council has been advised if a resident received $100,000 for their property and had to buy a lesser standard property for $130,000, the $30,000 gap would not meet the guidelines.

General manager Steve Pinnuck said the government and loose fill asbestos task force had not grasped of the market forces, previously raised by council.

“A number of the people who are affected have very low value homes and while they are getting market value, there were no other houses in Holbrook for that amount of compensation,” Mr Pinnuck said.

“They have to get some money from somewhere, borrow, take from their superannuation, but these are retired pensioners.

Mr Pinnuck said (the government and task force) would not accept that as a valid reason to pay additional money.

Cr Denise Osborne said it “was real world stuff”.

“This is not getting $3 million for your house in Sydney,” Cr Osborne said. 

“This is a rural town where people, who have lived all their lives, should not be pushed out or put in a situation where they have to rent for the rest of their lives, simply because they can’t replace their home.

“They’re not in the real world.”

The council is accepting all submissions to form part of a single funding proposal to the NSW government, with a deadline of August 30.

It has been recently announced people can apply re-apply for testing.

“What happens if someone, in three months time, finds out they have got loose fill asbestos and they do want to rebuild?” Mr Pinnuck said.

“They’ve missed the boat.

“There are people who can justify a claim and we need to make sure we don’t compromise their position, but we need to make sure we get the best outcome for the remainder.”

Also included in the fine print is that every $5 paid by the NSW Government must be matched $1 from council.