Unions urge fed government to back asbestos reforms
09/07/2012 - Unions — including the AMWU — have urged the federal government and other politicians to back reforms for managing asbestos, including the removal of asbestos from all public buildings in Australia by 2030.
Acting AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian, a member of the National Asbestos Management Review's expert advisory group, hoped the tabling of the Review last Thursday would mark a new era for asbestos management in Australia.
"The Asbestos Management Review should put a clear plan to the federal government," Bastian said.
"It represents a generational opportunity to deal with the problem of asbestos, in particular, the third wave of asbestos victims.
"Government must deliver on asbestos management and do so in an expedited fashion. Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos related disease in the world and the incidents of mesothelioma will continue to remain at peak levels unless action is taken now."
The unions are seeking that government support:
- The need for there to be a national audit of asbestos and a prioritised plan of its removal in public buildings by 2030;
- The introduction of compulsory asbestos contamination reports for all domestic and commercial dwellings built prior to 1987;
- The establishment of a national statutory authority to co-ordinate a response to asbestos issues such as disposal, removal and public awareness.
A delegation made up of Bastian, Lindsay Fraser of the CMFEU, Michael Borowick of the ACTU, Tanya Segelov of law firm Turner Freeman and Serafina Salucci, a mesothelioma sufferer, met with federal parliamentarians last week to urge action on the report.
"It was pleasing to see a willingness from those in Canberra to listen and engage on the issue," Bastian said.
"We'll now await their response."
Bastian said he was inspired by 42-year-old mother Serafina Salucci, a member of the delegation, who spoke directly with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
"Five years ago Serafina was diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of secondary exposure to asbestos from renovations in her family home when she was a child," he said.
"She has had one lung and three ribs removed, yet she had the energy to walk the halls of parliament in what was a very long day.
"Like others who have been exposed to asbestos, she demonstrates courage and a determination to ensure others don't suffer in the same way. We cannot let her down."
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