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Concerns raised over future of Government asbestos safety council

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Media Release

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Slater and Gordon’s senior asbestos lawyer Margaret Kent has raised serious concerns about the Commission of Audit’s recommendation that the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council be abolished and its agency be consolidated.

Ms Kent said the key responsibility of the council was to oversee the safe removal of asbestos and its abolition would send a signal to the community that this serious public health issue was no longer a priority.

“This proposed minor cost cutting measure is false economy because it ignores the long term health and economic costs that could result from watered-down efforts addressing this vital public health issue,” Ms Kent said.

“The recommendation to consolidate the entire Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency provides great uncertainty about future resources and begs the question whether experienced staff will keep their positions.

“And wiping out the entire asbestos council that is supposed to be wiping out this deadly dust is a bad move – fair minded people would not support it.

“We see first-hand what even small exposures to asbestos can do to one’s health – it can result in significant and debilitating disease with enormous consequences for individuals, families and communities.

“Once asbestos is disturbed, fibres that are released into the air can be inhaled and can lead to deadly diseases including mesothelioma.  We must do more, not less to eradicate the risks.

“We would urge the Federal Government to retain the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council and not push this important public health issue down the agenda.”