Asbestos-free Australia by 2030!
Campaigning trade unionists have given the Australian government a 2030 deadline to ensure that all asbestos is removed from the country. Speaking at an event in Hobart, Tasmania, Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union (AWU), called for the establishment of a compulsory asbestos removal program and the setting up of a national asbestos register. He said:
So many Australians don't understand that underneath their carpet, behind their walls, in their roofs, lays a ticking time bomb for the health of them and their children and future generations of those people who live in those homes.1
Howes praised the Tasmanian government for leading the nation by example, in its prioritization of asbestos removal work. Commenting on the AWU's demands, Tasmania's Minister of Workplace Relations, Lisa Singh, reiterated the State's determination to end asbestos pollution and asbestos-related deaths. Singh, who wanted Tasmania to adopt a leadership role in ensuring the AWU's asbestos initiatives were implemented, did not doubt the complexity of the task. Nevertheless, she was optimistic:
I think we need to be vigilant and that's why I'm looking forward to, by the end of this year, receiving back some policy options of how we as a State Government can move forward on this.2
The occasion of the September 16 meeting was the launch of an exposé on the history of Australia's asbestos giant: James Hardie.3 Author Matt Peacock warned Tasmanians that the extensive research he had done in preparation for writing this book made it clear that asbestos will be in more places here in Tasmania that we thought it was.4
September 19, 2009
1 Glaetzer S. Union War on Asbestos. September 17, 2009.
2 Support for asbestos removal campaign. September 16, 2009.
3 Peacock M. Killer Company James Hardie Exposed. 2009.
4 Johnston L. Union in campaign to remove asbestos. September 17, 2009.