Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today met with Members of the Select Council on Workplace Relations for consultations on the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management.
Meeting with state and territory governments, Minister Shorten said that Australia’s history of widespread use of asbestos has left a deadly legacy of asbestos-containing material in our built environment.
"It’s been almost a decade since asbestos was banned in this country and still, today, the dangers of this silent killer remain. Asbestos is the worst industrial menace that will go on killing for decades,” Mr Shorten said.
"The Gillard Government is committed to a plan of action for asbestos eradication and handling across Australia that aims to eliminate exposure and today’s meeting is another important step in developing the National Strategic Plan.
"The sad truth is that asbestos-related deaths are not expected to peak until 2020, and that tragically, we are expecting another 30-40,000 people to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in the next 20 years. There are children not yet born who will die of asbestos-related diseases. We owe it to future generations to come to grips with the blight of asbestos.”
Developing the National Strategic Plan is part of the Gillard Government’s consistent track record of action to tackle the scourge of asbestos.
As recommended by the Asbestos Management Review, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency will coordinate across all levels of government the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness, Management and Eradication.
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has been working with all jurisdictions and stakeholders to develop the plan for asbestos awareness, management and eradication by 30 June 2013.
"I am pleased that seven out of the eight state and territory representatives are supporting the development of the National Plan. Disappointingly, Victoria is the only jurisdiction not participating in a nationally coordinated approach," Mr Shorten said.
"I’d like to thank state and territory governments, industry, unions, asbestos advocacy groups and asbestos experts who have been involved in initial consultations.
"This input is vital to ensure that the plan is practical, implementable and comprehensive.”
The draft plan is available online http://deewr.gov.au/office-asbestos-safety.