Constituency Statement - Mr Fluffy families

Today I tabled the Fluffy Families and Residents First Group Impact Statement in the federal parliament. It was a privilege to share these families' voices and let them know that our community stands behind them.

Constituency statement - Mr Fluffy families

27 November 2014

I seek leave to table the Fluffy Owners and Residents Action Group Impact Statement ‘Hope in grief: confronting Mr Fluffy’s toxic legacy in Canberra and Queanbeyan’.

For people outside the ACT, the name ‘Mr Fluffy’ probably calls to mind something fun and frivolous. But fun and frivolity have been pretty scarce over the last few years for over 1,000 Canberra families who discovered their homes had been pumped full of crushed raw asbestos by a dodgy contractor trading under the name of ‘Mr Fluffy’.  

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, this person pumped the toxic material into the walls and roof cavities of 1021 homes across the ACT as insulation against the Canberra cold. Although he was only in business for a few short years, he left a potentially deadly legacy scattered throughout our community.

Today, it is clear that none of the Mr Fluffy homes is safe to live in. Every single one must be demolished to protect their owners and the surrounding community from the risk of exposure to deadly asbestos fibres.

The families affected by this calamity will see their treasured homes reduced to rubble. As if that weren’t painful enough, they also face years of uncertainty as they wait to find out whether anyone they love will fall sick from asbestos exposure. 

The statement that I am tabling today tells these families’ stories – in their own words and with no filter over the raw grief, loss and worry that so many feel.

I would like to share with the House just two stories which express the intense heartache created by this discovery.

Sixty-six year old Christine from Ainslie writes: “I have lived in my home since 1978, my three children were raised there and it is the home I shared with my late husband… I love my home: it is filled with a lifetime of our family’s memories. I despair over having to leave my community where I attend church, volunteer at the local primary school and have the love and support of my friends and neighbours…I am semi-retired, working only one day a week and therefore have no capacity to start again financially…there is never a day that goes by where I do not cry.” Christine – we are all so sorry for your loss.

Then there’s Matt, from Duffy. His anger and frustration practically leap from the page when he writes: “I bought this house in my early 20s with the idea of one day being able to raise a young family in it…Now I find out that the house I bought with all my hard-earned savings is worthless and we can’t afford to upgrade, all because we own a Mr Fluffy asbestos home… My wife and I had also thought about having another child but now we’re too scared: not only because of all the stress and fear we have at the moment, or bringing another child into a home that is dangerous, but also because financially there is no way we can afford another child if we were to continue living in this house that Mr Fluffy poisoned.” Matt – we share your grief.

I urge members opposite to read the full impact statement and then ask yourselves: has the government really done all it can do to support the Mr Fluffy families in Canberra and Queanbeyan?

To all the families who shared stories for this statement—including Janet and Mike Ilchef, Rhonda Fleming, Elisa Thompson, Lisa Ziolkowski, Nathan Hitchcock, Chris and Christina Pilkington, Petra Wiesner, Chris Brown, Fiona Matz, Luke Brown, Kim Grant, Felicity Anne Prideaux, Becc Rohrlach, Annabel Yagos, Timothy and Brianna Heseltine, Jorge Woods and Mike Desmond—thank you, and your community is here with you.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.