Defence Minister’s hands-off approach not good enough

Labor is calling on the Minister for Defence Marise Payne to urgently meet with communities impacted by the RAAF Base Williamtown contamination crisis. 

Minister Payne revealed in Senate Estimates today that she has not visited Williamtown in the five months since news of the contamination first broke.

The Minister also admitted she had not met with local residents to gain an understanding of the issues they are experiencing.

A Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee report described the contamination affecting the Williamtown community as a crisis.

The Report recommended the Commonwealth voluntarily acquire property, compensate commercial fishermen, and provide voluntarily annual blood tests for residents.

Minister Payne refused to confirm when the Abbott/Turnbull Government will respond to the Report.

Labor is concerned the Turnbull Government is not giving serious consideration to this crisis.

During today’s hearing, Defence confirmed that current and past personnel have not undergone any health testing as a result of potential exposure to the contaminants on base.

The community and business owners affected by this crisis have been in a holding pattern since they were first told about the contamination in September 2015. They are now entitled to an immediate response from the Turnbull Government.

It is time for Minister Payne to show the leadership that the Williamtown community deserve, and to hear their concerns firsthand.

WEDNESDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2016

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