Greater Hume Shire highlights loose fill asbestos compensation short-comings

GREATER Hume Shire's frustration at fine print over loose fill asbestos compensation for affected property owners in Holbrook exploded on Wednesday night.

Its interpretation of guidelines released by the NSW Government means only impacted residents aiming to rebuild will be able to meet the stringent conditions.

Those in line for compensation is less than half of the 38 impacted properties in the shire and could be as few as 10 to 12 in a situation described by mayor and Holbrook resident, Heather Wilton, as “harrowing”.

Council has been advised if a resident received $100,000 for their property and had to buy even 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 taskforce 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,” he said.

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

“But (the government and taskforce) will not accept that as being a valid reason to pay additional money.”

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

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

“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, but 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 by $1 from council.