Unions to push for a National Asbestos Authority

Unions are pushing for the establishment of an asbestos authority to protect people as well as remove asbestos from residential areas and commercial buildings.

According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union acting national secretary Paul Bastian met with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten on Wednesday to discuss on the possibility of setting up a National Asbestos Authority.

Mr Bastian said that more Australians have been killed from asbestos exposure today than in World War II.

“Surely we’ve had enough people die now, enough heart-wrenching diseases and enough legal acknowledgment that this must stop,” said Mr Bastian.

The workers’ union believes that a federally funded authority is the answer to the asbestos contamination problem.

The authority is expected to educate and promote awareness within the community of the dangers of asbestos in homes, business and public areas.

“As part of the authority, an urgent audit and plan for the removal of asbestos from all government premises is required.

“State governments regularly report low levels of compliance with asbestos regulations and we call on the federal government to treat its removal as a national issue of critical importance – including asbestos in schools.”

A spokesperson for the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, said it is a crucial issue for the government.

“Which is why we commissioned the asbestos management review – the minister and the government look forward to receiving the report’s recommendations,” said the spokesman.

The Hon Bill Shorten launched on Friday the Identifying asbestos in your home brochure which is a tool designed to help alert DIY renovators to potential areas where asbestos may be found and what asbestos may look like.

In his foreword, the Minister said that despite workers’ tragic deaths from asbestos exposure, many Australians unfortunately believe asbestos no longer poses a danger.

“However, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 Australians will be diagnosed with asbestos related diseases over the next 20 years, and researchers, policy makers and myself as one of the responsible ministers fear a third wave of asbestos deaths from people exposed in the home.”

The brochure has been adapted from a book by Brian Sketcher from Asbestos Audits Queensland, which was partially funded through the Federal Government’s Asbestos Innovation Fund.

 

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