Bill's Media Releases

$6.4 million to tackle Australia’s deadly asbestos legacy

Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today announced an additional $6.4 million for the new Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency to implement the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management.

The Rudd Labor Government is committed to safe handling and ultimately, the eradication of asbestos containing materials across Australia.

Asbestos is a cruel, indiscriminate killer and because of its widespread use over much of the 20th century, remains a persistent threat to Australians.

Sadly, asbestos-related deaths are not expected to peak until 2020, and tragically, it has been estimated that another 30-40,000 people will be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in the next 20 years.

The Government is determined to ensure Australia is a world leader in the safe removal of asbestos containing materials in homes and workplaces.

The creation of an independent, national Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency was recommended by the Asbestos Management Review.

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency commenced operations on 1 July and will implement the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management.

Developing the National Strategic Plan is part of this Government’s consistent track record of action to tackle the scourge of asbestos.

The aim of the Plan is to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres, in order to eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia.

The additional $6.4 million will allow the Agency to develop strategies for awareness raising, conduct research, improve identification techniques and finding and sharing best practice in asbestos management and handling.

For example, asbestos removal pilots will test the action chain from identification to removal to transport, storage and disposal.

The Plan has been developed in consultation with state and territory governments, unions, industry, researchers, community support groups and others.

The Agency will coordinate across all levels of government and stakeholders in the implementation of the Plan. Seven out of the eight state and territory governments are supporting the development of the Plan.

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council, with representatives from states and territories, unions, business and community groups, will assist the Agency in its work.

The Agency also manages the first National Asbestos Exposure Register. The register captures the details of members of the community who think they may have been exposed to asbestos containing materials (ACMs). It is available at www.asbestossafety.gov.au.

If residents or businesses wish to report suspected ACMs, please call the national asbestos hotline on 1800 888 468.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew Porter 0419 474 392