Trying to thrash out a deal on Katherine's PFAS losses

A community meeting has been called to discuss Katherine's PFAS class action on October 16.
A community meeting has been called to discuss Katherine's PFAS class action on October 16.

Slow steps are being taken to thrash out a deal with Defence over Katherine's class action claim for compensation.

Trying to avoid a long and expensive court hearing, lawyers from opposing sides met again on Friday.

They agreed to sit down for a mediation hearing before a Federal Court judge before the end of the year.

If that fails, a trial expected to take more than a month will start on April 1 in Sydney.

A further hearing is also expected later in the year.

Justice Michael Lee will hear all three class actions from Katherine (Shine Lawyers), Williamtown (Dentons) and Oakey (Shine Lawyers) at the same time.

Justice Lee has preliminary talks with the legal teams from all sides on Friday.

The mediation hearing in December will be before Judge Jacobson.

Shine Lawyers are coming to Katherine to hold a community meeting to discuss this progress of the class action on October 16.

The meeting will be held at Knotts Crossing from 6.30pm.

Test bores found the PFAS contamination is still running in groundwater from the base directly under Katherine to empty into the river.

Test bores found the PFAS contamination is still running in groundwater from the base directly under Katherine to empty into the river.

One subject Shine Lawyers plans to discuss is the selection of the expert witnesses which were also made on Friday.

These experts are crucial to the Katherine case.

Their opinions on the impact of PFAS contamination on property values in the town is at the heart of the bid for property owners to be compensated for losses.

Katherine Town Council, a late signup to the class action, is believed to have received the latest Valuer General's advice on the town's property values.

Rates bills have already been sent out for this year based on pre-PFAS values but these are the new values which the next three years' rates will be based on.

There is some concern these new values are based on a very limited number of sales, which again, most believe is a result of the PFAS issue.

That new valuation is expected to be mailed out some time this month and residents have 30 days to object.

While repeatedly admitting fault in allowing dangerous chemicals to leak from the Tindal RAAF Base, the Defence Department is contesting the claim that PFAS contamination caused property values in each area to drop.

Defence is said to have put aside $53 million of taxpayers' money to fight the case.

There is also a strong possibility the court will briefly come to Katherine next year to view the town's proximity to the Tindal RAAF Base.