Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Buybacks for Red Zone residents ruled out ahead of federal budget

BY JARROD MELMETH

Tuesday night's federal budget may include a $73 million package to connect PFAS affected communities, including those in Williamtown, to clean drinking water, but any chance of the government buying back those properties has been ruled out.

The funding was announced within hours of the release of a report by the government's expert health panel which concluded that there is "limited to no evidence" linking human disease to higher exposure.

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson has accused the government of reannouncing money which has already been allocated.

"Of that $73 million, $55.2 million has already been spent. I do not think the Turnbull government should be lauded for simply agreeing to stop contaminating peoples water and provide them with clean drinking water, which is a basic human right anyhow. There is so much more that really needs to be done here.

"I actually think it is really more about politicking. They have dropped a 400-page report via a difficult to find website on budget eve when people are very busy looking at budget items and working on what is going to be in and out of the budget. They have tried to really bring it in under the budget cloud," Ms Swanson said.

Williamtown resident Lindsay Clout said a buyback was something residents were really hoping for.

"They were hoping for some glimmer of hope that they would be able to be moved out, some level of compensation. The problem that we have got is the contamination stigma has destroyed house prices and there are hundreds of people that want to move away from this and they cannot get out because they cannot sell their properties. They are trapped," Mr Clout said.

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson with Red Zone affected residents.

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