Labor will effectively respond to chemical contamination

Labor will establish an intergovernmental taskforce to develop a nationally consistent approach to perfluorinated chemical contamination at Williamtown and other Commonwealth sites.

A Shorten Labor Government will provide additional support to address the immediate needs of the Williamtown community as a result of perfluorinated chemical contamination.

Perfluorinated chemical contamination in Williamtown and elsewhere is a serious issue.

We will fund an initial round of 10,000 voluntary blood tests at affected sites across the country, establishing baseline readings to allow for ongoing monitoring of contaminant exposure.

At Williamtown, a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Improve community consultation by establishing a local community liaison officer at RAAF Base Williamtown, ensuring the community has a single point of contact — if you want to speak to Defence, you’ll know who to contact.
  • Fund a study to analyse the impact of perfluorinated chemical contamination on the Williamtown community.
  • Provide a grant to the NSW Government to connect affected properties within the Williamtown investigation area to town water, as identified by the NSW EPA.
  • Extend income support for affected commercial fishers until March 2017.
  • Advocate for leniency by lending institutions with respect to business and home loan repayments until February 2017 for affected individuals.
  • Seek leniency with respect to licence fee payments until February 2017 for commercial fishing licences.

Labor has listened to the local community. We understand their concerns regarding uncoordinated and poorly communicated responses from government.

We will rectify this.

A Shorten Labor Government will develop a nationally consistent approach for screening and health guidelines, assessments, containment, management, standards and remediation protocols for sites that are identified as being contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals.

We also recognise that perfluorinated chemical contamination is a growing concern at Commonwealth sites around Australia.

Defence has identified 18 sites known, or likely, to have used substantial quantities of perfluorinated chemicals on site. There are also other Commonwealth sites that have, or are suspected of having, perfluorinated residues.

The intergovernmental taskforce will coordinate the response of government agencies to the contamination at RAAF Base Williamtown and other Commonwealth sites.

This will ensure that the Federal Government’s response is consistent, coordinated and transparent.

SATURDAY, 4 JUNE 2016

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