UNIONS will push for the establishment of a National Asbestos Authority to protect people and to remove asbestos from homes and public and commercial buildings.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union acting national secretary, Paul Bastian, will meet the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten, this afternoon to push the case. He is a lifelong campaigner against asbestos.
Mr Bastian says more Australians have died from exposure to asbestos than in World War II.
”Surely we’ve had enough people die now, enough heart-wrenching diseases and enough legal acknowledgment that this must stop,” he said.
The union’s solution is a federally funded authority to ”find, educate, remove and protect people from the dangers of asbestos”.
The authority would educate and raise awareness within the community of the existence of asbestos in private homes, businesses and public buildings.
”As part of the authority, an urgent audit and plan for the removal of asbestos from all government premises is required.
”State governments regularly report low levels of compliance with asbestos regulations and we call on the federal government to treat its removal as a national issue of critical importance – including asbestos in schools.”
Mr Shorten’s spokesman said it was a critical issue for the government.
”Which is why we commissioned the asbestos management review – the minister and the government look forward to receiving the report’s recommendations,” he said.
The Herald understands the review will be handed to the government later this week and is likely to recommend some form of national authority.