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Created Wed 7/05/2014, Last Updated Wed 7/05/2014

CFMEU rejects the abolition of the Asbestos Safety Council: too many lives at risk

The CFMEU is calling on the Abbott Government to reject the recommendation of the Commission of Audit to abolish the Asbestos Safety and Education Council.

CFMEU National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan said the Council was established with the support of Senator Abetz in 2013 in order to eradicate asbestos from every workplace and to prevent asbestos related diseases.

“Thousands of our members have lost their lives as a result of working with this deadly substance.

“Given that Australia has the highest incidence of asbestos related disease, the Council should be allowed to continue its important work, free from any other government department,” he said.

“In order for asbestos related diseases to be stamped out, this issue is one that cannot be held hostage to any political agenda.

Mr Noonan said that any tampering with the Council would have a detrimental effect on the important task of raising awareness about asbestos and preventing asbestos related disease.

“Too many people died because they were kept in the dark about the dangers of asbestos. It wasn’t just workers who handled it, but wives and children of those workers.”

Thirty four thousand people have died since 1980 due to asbestos related disease, but it’s expected that there will be another 30 – 40,000 people diagnosed with the disease in the next 20 years.

“Awareness about asbestos is a pressing priority. There are people in the community who are unwittingly handling asbestos through tasks like pulling down walls in house renovations.”

“This is why the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency should be funded to do their job and stop further loss of life as a result of this poisonous substance.”

“I call on Mr Abbott and Mr Abetz to put the safety of the Australian community first. Saving people’s lives should take priority over saving money.”