Inquiry advises compo for toxic foam
OAKEY residents and landowners around the country impacted by a toxic firefighting foam should be paid financial compensation from the Government, a parliamentary inquiry has found.
It also recommended property buybacks be considered.
The report into problems with the foam, known as PFAS and used at Defence bases, said there was a case for compensation because of the destruction of property prices in those areas, even if health impacts were never proven.
The Defence sub-committee made no recommendation on how much compensation would be, but one group battling for recompense claimed it could be in the billions of dollars.
About 450 Oakey residents and 500 Williamtown residents already have class actions against the Government, while the Defence Department is investigating potential contamination on another 26 of their sites.
The report called for a "flexible" compensation scheme for property owners where there was "quantifiable financial losses associated with PFAS contamination" and that, in some instances, property buybacks should be considered.
It also recommended that a co-ordinator-general be appointed to oversee the Government's response.
Committee chairman Andrew Laming urged the Government to back the process quickly, after initial responses were delayed for years.
"People need a pathway where they can bring to the Government a non-litigated claim based on a collection of relevant fiscal information," the LNP minister said.
Coalition Against PFAS spokesman Lindsay Clout said that given the thousands of properties that were potentially impacted, the compensation could be in the billions of dollars. "We're not calling for a bonanza, we just want compensation for the loss of property value," he said.
Assistant Defence Minister David Fawcett said the Government would consider the recommendations.