Turner Freeman appointed to the Expert Advisory Committee
In 2010 the then Minister for Industrial Relations Julia Gillard established a National Asbestos Management Review. I was appointed to the nine person Expert Advisory Committee whose job was to assist the Chairperson in providing his recommendations and report.
The purpose of the Review was to assess current activities in the areas of asbestos management and make recommendations to the Commonwealth Government for the development of a national strategic plan to improve asbestos awareness management and removal.
The Review held several public forums and individual consultations before releasing an Issues Paper for public comment. Over 57 written submissions were received. Further public forums were held before the Review handed its Report to Minister Bill Shorten in June 2012. The Report made a five substantive recommendations including:-
- The development of a National Strategic Plan with the aim of preventing exposure to asbestos fibres.
- The establishment of a National Agency to coordinate activities across all levels of Government.
- The establishment of a centrally operated process to identify the location and assess the condition of all asbestos containing materials in government and commercial premises built prior to 31 December 2003.
- The staged removal of all asbestos containing materials from government and commercial buildings by a target date of 2030.
A requirement that an Asbestos Content Report be undertaken by a competent assessor to determine and disclose the existence of asbestos containing materials in residential properties built prior to 1987 at the point of sale or lease or prior to renovation together with a property labelling system to alert workers and potential purchasers and tenants to the presence of asbestos.
The Review was made public by the Minister in September 2012. The Minister set up within his Department an Office of Asbestos Safety as the first step to implementing the Review’s recommendations. The Office of Asbestos Safety has been tasked with developing the National Strategic Plan as recommended by the Review by 1 July 2013.
In May 2013 the Gillard Government introduced legislation into Parliament to create the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency which will commence operations from 1 July 2013 and has been given a budget of $10.5 million.
I am proud of the work that has been carried out by the Advisory Group and the Report handed to the Minister. After watching people die of asbestos disease for the last 15 years I am pleased to be able to contribute to a national approach to prevent future exposures to asbestos and people being diagnosed with asbestos diseases.