Bill's Media Releases


Federal Leader of the Opposition and Member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten has written to Premier Napthine seeking urgent community meetings for Sunshine North residents following the shocking reports in relation to the Wunderlich factory.


He has asked for a full and independent analysis of asbestos levels both in the immediate proximity of the Wunderlich factory, as well as the wider area.


Bill Shorten has also written to residents of North Sunshine seeking to reassure them that their community will not be abandoned.


“This is just shocking – the scale of what’s been reported is incomprehensible,” said Bill Shorten, Federal Leader of the Opposition and Member for Maribyrnong.


“There are many families who’ve lived in Sunshine North for generations. Right now, they’re feeling anxious, confused and no doubt concerned for their families, especially their children.”


“The Government must reassure residents by immediately holding open community meetings with experts on hand to answer questions. It must also urgently undertake full and independent analysis of contamination levels.”


“It must get to the bottom of how widespread this is – and it must be open and accountable in how it does so.”


“We simply shouldn’t have to rely on journalists to uncover asbestos contamination in our suburbs.”


Australia has the highest per capita rate of asbestos disease in the world and almost 34,000 people have died because of the deadly dust since 1980.


Around 700 Australians die each year from asbestos-related diseases, and without proper management experts worry that tens of thousands of Australians could be diagnosed with asbestos related diseases in coming decades.


“Sadly, asbestos contamination is a problem that’s been dealt with all too many times before, so the Government should have a tried and true response ready to go.”


“Prime Minister Tony Abbott must guarantee once and for all that he won’t cut the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency or scale back its important work.”


“This shouldn’t be about saving money – it should be about saving lives.”


The Office of Asbestos Safety was established under Bill Shorten as Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations in September 2012, replaced by the Office of Asbestos Safety on 1 July 2013, to start this work.


The Office worked closely with state and territory governments as well as key stakeholder organisations to develop the national strategic plan for the eradication of asbestos related disease.
As recently as June 2014, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Senator Eric Abetz refused to commit to the agency continuing.


In June 2013, Bill Shorten also opened 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.


The purpose of the register is to have a record of potential exposure in case an individual develops an asbestos related disease in the future.

The National Asbestos Exposure Register captures details including where and when the potential exposure occurred and details of any diagnoses of any asbestos-related diseases.


Australia was the most prolific user of asbestos containing material in the world. It is estimated that 1 in 3 homes built in Australia between the end of the Second World War and 1987 contain asbestos.