The NSW Government has strengthened the Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Program to support more residents across the state, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean announced today.
Free tests are now being offered in the Tamworth Regional Council area after a property was found to contain loose-fill asbestos.
In addition, properties affected by chrysotile loose-fill asbestos will also be included in the government’s Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program.
Mr Kean said the expansion of the statewide program would help ensure the health and welfare of even more property owners across NSW.
“Public safety is our top priority, and that’s why we’re strengthening the Government’s program to support homeowners where loose-fill asbestos has been identified,” Mr Kean said.
Mr Kean said chrysotile is the third type of loose-fill asbestos – alongside amosite and crocidolite – to be included in the program.
“This Government has acted swiftly to bolster its package that now includes chrysotile so we can help further residents affected by loose fill asbestos,” Mr Kean said.
“We want to remove this dangerous substance from the community as efficiently as possible to protect people’s health as well as the value of their most important investment, their family home.
“We’re currently offering 250 free tests in Tamworth, with 137 homes having been registered and confirmed as eligible for testing, to date,” Mr Kean said.
“Of the 138 NSW homes that have tested positive for loose-fill asbestos, nine have contained chrysotile and now they too have the option to enter into the voluntary program.”
To register for free testing in the Tamworth Regional Council Area, and find more information about the Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Program , visit www.loosefillasbestos.nsw.gov.au.
Loose-fill asbestos was used as insulation in NSW homes during the 1960s and 70s. The NSW Government has determined that demolition, comprehensive site remediation, and disposal are the best ways to ensure the health and safety of the NSW community.
The loose-fill asbestos insulation program has had more than 97,000 residents register with the scheme, with more than 70,000 homes eligible for free testing. About 38,000 tests have been completed – to date – as part of the ongoing program.
The NSW Government today announced an overhaul of the NSW Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) to enable private insurers to enter the market and improve protections for consumers against incomplete and defective work.
HBCF is a mandatory insurance product which builders are required to take out for residential building work over $20,000.
Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said that the current scheme has been in significant deficit for many years and is in need of reform.
“This insurance provides a safety net for homeowners in the event a builder cannot complete residential building work or fix defects, due to insolvency, death, disappearance or licence suspension,” he said.
“We are committed to enhancing consumer protection, improving home building standards and reducing the risk of insolvencies through private sector competition and innovation.”
Key elements of the reform include:
“NSW is experiencing a residential construction boom and these reforms protect homeowners and empower them to make more informed decisions,” Mr Dominello said.
A bill to reform the HBCF is expected to be introduced to Parliament in the first half of 2017. The reforms follow extensive consultation with industry stakeholders. Further information is available at www.sira.nsw.gov.au.
The NSW Government has today announced a further assistance package for NSW residents with loose-fill asbestos in their homes. Minister for Finance and Services, Dominic Perrottet said the Government was taking action to offer both immediate and long-term measures.
“Ensuring the health and safety of residents is the NSW Government’s top priority,” Mr Perrottet said. “This is why we are taking comprehensive action, based on our health advice, to ensure affected owners and residents have the support they need.”
“This includes both a ‘Make Safe’ Assistance Package for affected properties and the establishment of a Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce.”
Mr Perrottet said the ‘Make Safe’ Assistance Package, available immediately, supplements already available measures with financial assistance to help residents safely manage loose fill asbestos.
“This package provides financial support for sealing of cavities, environmental cleaning of habitable areas, hazard labelling and regular inspections. Support will also be provided for counselling services, assistance towards the replacement of furnishings and where required emergency accommodation.”
Mr Perrottet said the Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce would develop a comprehensive action plan to advise the government on the most appropriate enduring solution to the loose-fill asbestos issue in NSW, which will look at options that could include government purchase, demolition and owner rebuild.
“We want to conduct an evidence-based, consultative, cost effective and measured approach to long term remediation that takes into account the needs of the community,” the Minister said.
“That’s why we’ve created a multi-agency task force that will be chaired by retired NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens and will report to Government by May 2015.”
“Today’s announcement by the NSW Government of a comprehensive response to the issue of loose fill asbestos in NSW homes reflects our commitment to protecting the health and safety of NSW residents.”
The Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce includes representatives of the Department of Planning and Environment, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Environment Protection Authority, Local Government NSW, Ministry of Health, NSW Treasury, Office of Local Government, and WorkCover NSW.
The Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA) independent investigation into loose-fill asbestos in New South Wales to identify the full extent of affected homes across the State will report to the Taskforce by 30 April 2015.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the efforts of the Member for Monaro John Barilaro who has been a tireless advocate for the needs of his electorate,” Mr Perrottet said. “He has been instrumental in ensuring his constituents get the help they need.”
The Member for Monaro John Barilaro said that the plan demonstrates the government’s commitment to keeping local residents safe.
“This comprehensive package will help ensure current practices for managing loose-fill asbestos reduces the risk of exposure through better coordination and improve public awareness for the community,” he said.
“Unfortunately families have been caught in the middle, but our resolute focus is about ensuring the safety of all residents to improve long term health and safety outcomes.”
“This package is a call to government, industry and the wider community to take action and responsibly manage loose-fill asbestos and we now have a mechanism and the resources to do so.”
A new website and hotline has been set up for the community to obtain further information.
More details can be found online at www.nsw.gov.au/loosefillasbestos or by calling Service NSW on 13 77 88.
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