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Call for tougher asbestos controls on construction sites

The CFMEU is escalating their campaign for more action against illegal importation of asbestos after the discovery of the cancer causing substance on a major Brisbane project on the weekend.

The union is calling on all state governments to obtain information from Yuanda about products that the company has supplied on state government projects including two children’s hospitals in Perth and Adelaide.

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor is also writing to Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton demanding action from the government.

“We want to know what action the government intends to take against Yuanda, given that they have broken the law,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Are they going to let Yuanda get away with putting workers and the community in danger?

“The system has failed workers and the community. We face a situation where asbestos could be present in buildings – including children’s hospitals – without our knowledge.

“We are completely in the dark about who has been exposed and where.”

Mr O’Connor said the issue of illegal importation of unsafe and poisonous building products has been raised in Parliament, was the subject of a Senate inquiry and made the front page of a national newspaper in the last twelve months, without an appropriate response from the government.

Yuanda has also failed in its legal obligations to provide documentation about any product that is imported to Australia.

“After all the work that has been done over decades of struggle by unions and the community to put an end to all the painful suffering and death of so many people, we don’t want to be in a position where we are back where we started, thirty, forty years ago,” he said.

“If this government doesn’t act immediately, they will be held responsible for the repercussions of asbestos exposure.

“Doing nothing is putting people’s lives at risk.”

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said she would also write to the federal government calling for stricter import controls on the hazardous substance.

“I’m very concerned that asbestos is still making its way into the country and ending up on Queensland construction sites,” she said.

“I want to commend the CFMEU for its vigilance in testing, which detected deadly asbestos fibres on one of the biggest construction sites in Brisbane.

“The import ban imposed back in 2003 clearly didn’t work in this case and it’s up to the federal government to enforce this ban or explain why it failed.

“People going into new buildings, or working on building sites, have an expectation that they will be asbestos free.”


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