Leading asbestos law firm Slater and Gordon has welcomed today’s announcement by the Federal Government that it will establish the Office of Asbestos Management to coordinate a national approach to asbestos awareness and management in Australia.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, said the Office would be responsible for developing a national strategic plan to manage and reduce exposure to asbestos.
Slater and Gordon’s Asbestos Practice Group Leader Joanne Wade welcomed the announcement but said it was just one step in the process of dealing with a major problem that has killed tens of thousands of Australians over the past 50 years.
“It is now imperative that all governments, state, Federal and territory, work together on an approach that acknowledges the devastating burden asbestos disease sufferers and their families endure,” Ms Wade said.
“Together every level of Government must work cooperatively if we are going to have any chance at reducing the estimated 40,000 asbestos related deaths over the next 20 years.
“The Government must also move quickly to put in place a program for the safe removal of asbestos from government and commercial buildings and a framework for the management of non employment-related asbestos exposure.
“This country has an ugly history of asbestos-related diseases, and it’s a continual reminder of the corporate greed and negligence of companies who shamelessly used and sold the product while knowing about its health impacts,” Ms Wade said.
Slater and Gordon represented asbestos victims and unions in negotiating the 2004 James Hardie Agreement which saw the establishment of the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund.
Slater and Gordon also conducted the first successful common law asbestos litigation case in 1984 and has acted for thousands of people exposed to and diagnosed with asbestos related diseases.