AT the end of a federal election campaign in which every individual and family in every possible demographic appears to be getting something under major party campaign pledges, there is a Hunter group resigned to missing out.
"We will get nothing," said Salt Ash resident Dennis McCarron at a heated meeting at Williamtown on Monday night where hopes of a Labor commitment to property buybacks were dashed.
Monday marked 1348 days since residents near Williamtown RAAF Base discovered their land had been contaminated by toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS chemicals.
While their daily lives have had to go on, affected residents have been thrust into a future with too many unknowns, not the least being the impact of PFAS chemicals on their bodies and health, and more disturbingly on the health and lives of their children and grandchildren.
Affected residents have also been forced to deal with the brick wall of the Department of Defence and its often tone deaf responses to the real anguish experienced by many people. Their futures have a question mark hanging over them through no fault of their own, many feel trapped in houses and on properties that are devalued because of the PFAS contamination, and the Department of Defence has blocked where it should have listened, and prioritised other issues.
There was considerable hope that Monday's federal election forum, hosted by Fullerton Cove Residents' Action Group, would deliver a commitment from Labor to buybacks and compensation for affected residents.
While Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon said buybacks and compensation were the "only end game" for residents trapped in Williamtown's red zone, he did not outline a path for that to happen because Labor did not know "what it is going to cost and how it can be contained".
Liberal hopeful Sachin Joshi wasn't available to attend the forum because of "previous campaign commitments", and after years of strident criticism of the Federal Coalition Government for failing to adequately respond to the PFAS saga.
It is a mess not of their making, but residents trapped in the Williamtown red zone have shown they're not giving up. And that's their campaign promise.