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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2348..


Griffith Preschool

MR CONNOLLY: My question is also to Mr Stefaniak in his capacity as Education Minister. Minister, what processes have you put in place to identify and monitor all those who, because of your and your department's bungling, were exposed to asbestos over a period of some days?

Mrs Carnell: Asbestos sheeting.

MR CONNOLLY: Asbestos sheeting which you said yesterday was broken into small pieces which were scattered around the playground, and, given the behaviour of preschoolers, we can safely assume, has been picked up, thrown, poked at one another, if not eaten and sucked on. It was asbestos sheeting, not in situ but broken up into small pieces. Given that the World Health Organisation has determined there is no safe level - - -

Mrs Carnell: Half the houses at Narrabundah are made of the stuff.

Mr Hird: Did you have any?

MR CONNOLLY: I know the Government benches think this is very funny, but parents will not. Given that the World Health Organisation has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, does the Government accept full liability for the possible complications which may have been experienced by the children and workers involved?

MR STEFANIAK: I think you are really drawing a longbow there, Mr Connolly. My advice at present is that no-one appears to have been hurt in any way by this. It may be very difficult to do too much about it. Mr Connolly, I will see what I can do. I will do whatever is reasonable in the circumstances.

MR CONNOLLY: By way of a supplementary question: Although I expect the answer will be no in each case, have you contacted all of those parents of children who may have been exposed and offered them counselling? Have you offered to provide advice to their medical practitioners? What will be done to ensure that the risks associated with this type of exposure will be documented and acknowledged for the future?

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Connolly, again, you really are drawing a longbow. Asking me whether the Government takes liability is really asking - - -

Mr Connolly: He thinks it is funny.

MR STEFANIAK: I do not think it is funny at all. Asking me whether the Government takes liability is asking for a legal opinion. All we can do is ensure that proper procedures are adhered to. There were a couple of things that were not, like the contractor not being licensed. Those things do need to be looked at, Mr Connolly.


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