NSW Minister to hear about Holbrook's problems with loose-fill asbestos program

HOLBROOK’S hardship with the voluntary purchase and demolition loose-fill asbestos program will be conveyed officially to the NSW government within weeks.

Greater Hume Council wants to meet with Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean to discuss the impact of 33 Holbrook properties testing positive for the deadly material.

Council general manager Steven Pinnuck said in some cases the purchase amounts being offered after valuation had been as low as about $75,000, not enough to buy another property in town.

According to real estate website Domain, present houses for sale in Holbrook ranged from $159,000 to $369,000. Affected home owners, many of them older people, faced difficult decisions about whether to sell their property to the government, retain the land and rebuild after remediation or not join the program.

“Holbrook, comparatively speaking, is the worst affected town in the state,” Mr Pinnuck said.

“We’re losing five per cent of the homes in Holbrook because of this particular issue; now we understand it’s not the state government’s fault but it does give rise for, I think, special consideration for Holbrook.”

The general manager said most people indicated they would prefer to stay in Holbrook and “certainly council wants them to stay”.

Greater Hume mayor Heather Wilton said some home owners were still weighing up options, some had not accepted the program and others were disputing the valuations.

A NSW Fair Trading spokesman said Mr Kean did intend to visit the shire.

“Minister Kean will be visiting Holbrook in the next two weeks, at the invitation of local member Greg Aplin, who has been a strong advocate for the community on this issue,” he said.

Four other Greater Hume properties – two rural and two in Culcairn – had also tested positive for asbestos, as had four in Albury and 19 in Berrigan Shire.

A NSW Fair Trading spokesman said 23 Greater Hume residences had accepted offers to take part in the government program, with eight properties purchased and demolitions due to begin mid-year. Demolition had begun in Berrigan, with 18 accepted offers, 14 properties purchased and one property remediated and removed from the loose-fill asbestos insulation register. In Albury one property had been purchased by the program and demolition expected next year.