Recently, concerns have been raised regarding exposure to asbestos following the discovery of asbestos in various schools across Australia, and in Telstra’s National Broadband Network pits.
In response to this, an Australian review of asbestos was conducted by ACTU assistant secretary, Geoff Fary. The review reveals that up to 40,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma and lung-cancer, as a result of exposure to these dangerous particles. This toll is higher than the number of Australian lives lost in the battlefield at Flanders, according to Federal Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten. The review also strongly encourages the Federal government to draft a national strategic plan for asbestos management.
Following this review, the Australian government has proposed a national plan to remove the poisonous material from all public buildings by 2030. Victoria is currently the only state that is refusing to sign this national plan.
Victoria claims that the national plan is an “ineffective Labor policy”. Apparently Victoria has already undertaken its own measures to address this pressing issue. According to Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips, Victoria has a memorandum of understanding between the Victorian WorkCover Authority, the Environment Protection Authority, and the Victorian Department of Health. Kristy McSweeney, spokeswoman for the Victorian government, has stated that although Victoria encourages continual cross-jurisdictional discussion on the issue, the most effective way of managing asbestos would be to address it on a state level.
Bill Shorten has accused Victoria of “grandstanding” and encourages Victoria to join in the nationwide attempt to “rid Australia of the fatal fibre”.
Mesothelioma in Australia and asbestosis in Australia is a major problem. Treatment of mesothelioma in Australia has made some inroads in the past few years, but many people in Australia are still passing away as a result of this condition. It is hoped asbestos in Australia can be removed to prevent asbestos conditions in Australia becoming an increasing problem.