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AMWU QLD/NT branch welcomes Labor’s chemical contamination response

The AMWU QLD/NT branch welcomes Labor’s announcement concerning the response to perfluorinated chemical contamination at defence sites. 

Labor Senator and Shadow Minister for Defense Stephen Conroy announced that a Federal Labor Government would establish an intergovernmental taskforce to develop “a nationally consistent approach to contamination” and to develop health guidelines, containment and management standards. The taskforce would have 90 days to put forward recommendations so that the Government can start addressing the issue as quickly as possible.

Labor will also fund 10,000 blood tests to people in affected areas to establish baseline readings and monitor exposure to contaminants.

State Secretary Rohan Webb said the announcement is a strong first step towards resolving this alarming issue for the affected communities.

“Workers, families and affected communities need action, for too long the Turnbull Government has refused to act on this issue”

The AMWU has always fought hard for worker’s safety and has previously called for the current government to make voluntary blood tests available to all past and present workers at contaminated sites as an urgent matter of workplace safety. It is paramount that all workers are and feel safe when they are on the job.

This is the first major commitment by either party to the people affected by the potentially cancer-causing substance in firefighting foams used for decades, and comes following the Senate’s enquiry into the chemical contamination of groundwater around Defence Force facilities sites such as Oakey and Williamtown.

Perfluorinated chemical contamination was also recently discovered in the soil and waterways surrounding the Gold Coast Airport showing just how widespread this issue is and how important it is to have a National Strategy to deal with it. 

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  • Senior Lecturer at WSU. Journal of Sociology. Social class, gender, family, education and work. My views are my own.