Lack of communication a real Payne for Katherine residents


The local swimming pool in Katherine is closed because of PFAS contamination detected above the safe recreation level of 0.7 micrograms per litre. PFAS contamination was detected at 0.84 micrograms per litre on 28 September leading local authorities to close the pool.

The Katherine Town Council claims it responded to community sensitivities regarding PFAS when it decided to immediately close the pool. 

The high level of uncertainty and sensitivity to PFAS issues in the Katherine community and its local council clearly shows the Turnbull Government’s failure to communicate with the community as the issue progresses.

Labor has repeatedly called on the Turnbull Government to coordinate the response to PFAS contamination and clearly, concisely and consistently engage and communicate with the Katherine community through one point of contact.

But unfortunately our calls have been ignored, time and again.

In the absence of any coordinated approach, the Northern Territory Government has had to step in and create its own interdepartmental committee to address issues raised by Katherine residents.

And while Defence advise there is a dedicated community liaison officer in Katherine – following Labor’s policy – the officer’s availability is limited and contact details are not on the Defence website.

Minister for Defence, where is the dedicated community liaison officer for Katherine based? 

Is the dedicated community liaison officer available to Katherine residents at all times, and not on a fly in fly out basis? 

With the local pool closed, will the water treatment plant’s installation be sped up?

Who is responsible for communicating the details of what is happening with the water treatment plant? 

Who is the lead agency on PFAS issues in Katherine – Is it Defence? The NT Government? The Katherine Town Council?

When will the Turnbull Government get its act together and start managing the issue in a nationally consistent and coordinated way?


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