Time for GIO Insurance to clean up Australia Street fire site

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne has told the owner and the insurers of a fire damaged building in Camperdown to take their responsibilities seriously, stop passing the buck, and to clean up the site immediately.

Following a fire at 101 Australia Street, Newtown, on June 17, Inner West Council sent in specialist contractors and asbestos assessor to decontaminate and remove toxic material from the building and surrounding streets.

“My message to GIO Insurance and the property owner is it’s time to step up to your legal and moral responsibilities and clean up this site immediately,” said Mayor Byrne.

“Insurance companies make billions of dollars and in return they have a responsibility to uphold public safety after a fire like this.

“Several weeks after orders were issued by Council, GIO and the property owner have still not cleared the site and as Mayor I am going to hold them accountable in the court of public opinion.

“Our top priority remains - and will always remain - the safety of the people living in the vicinity of the fire damaged property,” he said.

“Let’s be clear. The responsibility for the clean-up lies squarely with the building owner and GIO Insurance.

“We are continuing to pressure GIO and the owner to take their responsibilities seriously and clean up the site as quickly as possible.

“Immediately after the fire, Council sent in a team to secure the site and spray it with an adhesive by a licenced asbestos contractor to ensure public safety.

“Since then, Council has regularly liaised with the property owner, who gave regular assurances that work was about to begin on the investigation and clean up of the site.

“Yet, the owner and GIO continued to drag their feet and this work only started on Thursday [25 July].

“The time for passing the buck is over. The building owners and their insurers need to step up to the plate and ensure the site is decontaminated and scrubbed clean as quickly as possible.

“Council has gone above and beyond its responsibilities to assist with the clean-up. We have already spent more than $500,000 cleaning streets and homes around the property.

“Council recently installed additional safety measures, including new air monitoring and sprinkler systems to ensure any debris is properly contained.”

Mayor Byrne said Council will continue to monitor the site on a daily basis until the property has been made secure.

For further information, please contact John Roper on 0435 963 787.

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Page last updated: 06 May 2021