THE Williamtown Red Zone class action lawsuit against the Department of Defence over toxic firefighting foam contamination has been indefinitely derailed due to lack of a judge.
After months of failed mediation, the case was due to be heard in the Federal Court of Australia in August.
It's understood Justice Jayne Jagot, who was to hear the case, has been forced to withdraw from all matters for the rest of the year.
Fullerton Cove Residents' Action Group president Lindsay Clout said the residents were "devastated".
"People are just going through the roof, they are beside themselves with disbelief," he said.
"We were given confidence mediation would work and it failed. Now we're being told there is no trial until at least next year. There is just no good news, over and over again."
Litigation funder IMF Bentham is backing the case that is being run by multinational firm Dentons.
Mr Clout said residents had "pinned their hopes" on the court action after being "ignored" by Defence and the federal government as the environmental crisis continues to unfold.
After almost four years of despair, Labor issued a ray of hope for the residents on Thursday confirming it planned to issue a "national approach to PFAS contamination" policy.
A Labor spokeswoman said the party hoped to reveal the details of the PFAS-specific policy before the May 18 federal election, but it was waiting for the Parliamentary Budget Office to cost the plan.
"The PBO decides what they'll cost and when, so we unfortunately can't give a specific date," she said.
Labor vowed its Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson would make a "Williamtown specific" announcement about the contamination issue before the election.
Ms Swanson said on Thursday that the community would be "feeling crushed" by news of the court delay.
"The people of Williamstown deserve a resolution, or at the very least options, as pragmatically and quickly as possible," she said.
"They have every right to feel completely abandoned by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Liberal National Party."
The Newcastle Herald reported last week that Defence has established a $53 million fighting fund to be spent on legal fees in its attempt to defeat Williamtown residents in the case.
According to a senior Defence official, "no amount" of money has been budgeted to compensate residents whose land, homes and businesses have been been polluted by toxic PFAS chemicals leaking from Williamtown RAAF Base.
Defence has budgeted $53.8 million in legal fees for six matters, including three PFAS class action claims brought by more than 1000 residents from Williamtown, Oakey, in Queensland, and Katherine, in the Northern Territory.
A Paterson federal election candidates' forum will be hosted by Red Zone residents on Monday from 6pm at the Williamtown Union Hall, 2 Sandeman St, Williamtown.
Each candidate and party leader has been invited to attend. It's expected Labor, Liberal, The Greens, One Nation, United Australia and Christian Democratic parties will be represented.
Mr Clout urged members of the public to come along and support the residents in their campaign for action on the contamination.