I am appalled at Minister Peter Dutton’s recent comments in relation to the importation of asbestos-contaminated goods.
Instead of addressing the issue at hand, Peter Dutton has passed the buck and tried to demonise some of the organisations who have fought for decades to protect workers from the dangerous scourge of asbestos and hold manufacturers to account on behalf of victims. The Minister’s lack of action demonstrates his preferred method of policy making - criticise a third party whilst ignoring his own responsibilities.
I represent a significant part of what is known as Sydney’s “asbestos belt”. The suburbs of Seven Hills, Lalor Park and Blacktown – each in my electorate of Greenway – are the top three in Sydney for the removal of asbestos-related building materials. I’ve met with many families and community members who have lost loved ones because of asbestos-related diseases. While handling and disposal has improved over time, Australia has serious issues in relation to the importation of asbestos-contaminated goods. We need to continue to work hard to ensure homes and construction sites are asbestos-free.
While Mr Dutton blames others, there are those living in asbestos dwellings and people working in dangerous environments where they risk exposure.
This is pathetic behaviour from a Minister who doesn’t seem to care for facts and evidence and ignores his responsibilities.
Peter Dutton has known about the risks associated with imported products for some time. Last October, the ABC reported how imported building equipment that was certified ‘asbestos-free’ actually contained white asbestos. I touched on these reports in a speech I gave last year during asbestos awareness week.
What has Peter Dutton done since this report? Has he acted to increase fines? Has he introduced new processes to weed out non-compliant materials?
Before the election Labor committed that we will move to establish a Senate committee inquiry into the illegal importation of asbestos. Labor will propose that the committee inquiry be wide-ranging and include a specific review of the Customs Act to ensure its provisions adequately regulate the importation of asbestos. Labor expects that the scope of the inquiry will enable the committee to make recommendations concerning the policing of our borders and on keeping Australia free of this insidious substance.
Instead of passing the buck, it’s time Peter Dutton performed his basic duties. I’ll keep fighting for my local community to ensure he does just that.
FRIDAY, 5 AUGUST 2016
For more information:
Asbestos Answers – General Information: http://www.asbestosanswers.com.au/general-info/
Cumberland Council Asbestos Advocacy: http://www.holroyd.nsw.gov.au/health-safety/asbestos-advocacy/