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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (12 October) . . Page.. 2933 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, the other key point of this censure motion this morning is that the Minister misled on the extent of the lead contamination of this floc material, and he did. His own press statement is titled "One load of metal car waste being tested at Belconnen tip".

Mr Moore: That is accurate.

MR CORBELL: The Minister for Health interjects across the chamber that it is accurate. It is not accurate. It is not accurate because the Minister himself has confirmed that the advice and the testing undertaken by the union was for a series of loads dumped at the tip and that the lead contamination could not be confined to one load because the tests came from more than one load. Again, the Minister has failed in his duty of care to the environment, to the workers at the Belconnen landfill and to the ACT community. He has a duty of care. He has failed to meet that.

Perhaps we should be asking some more questions about the situation, Mr Speaker. Those are the grounds on which the Minister should be censured today. He misled us on the extent of the contamination and he misled us on the extent of the Government's response. But there are further questions that we need to be asking today, including why it is normal government practice for the union to initiate the testing of material on behalf of management at the Belconnen landfill.

If we accept the Minister's claim that it was agreed that the union would do the testing, the question that has to be asked is why it was that the union had to do the testing. Why is the responsibility not on the management of the Belconnen landfill? Why is it not on the Department of Urban Services? Why is that responsibility not on the Territory? Is it simply another way of saving on costs? It seems a very strange way, a very strange way indeed, of going about managing waste to rely on tests undertaken by the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union rather than the management charged with responsibility for the landfill.

Mr Stanhope: Or tests done by the dumper.

MR CORBELL: Or, as my leader points out, tests done by the person disposing of the waste. Do we rely on that as a guide to the safety of the waste or do we have our own system of checking? Clearly we do not, and that should be a matter of serious concern for everyone in this place.

Mr Speaker, the grounds for censure are clear. The Minister misled on the extent of the contamination of the waste and he misled on the extent of the Government's response. Why wait three weeks? Why pretend that nothing was wrong, that there were no potential concerns? Why ignore the fact that bans had been placed on the material by the union because of the concern? Why ignore all of that, exposing workers to an additional three weeks, potentially, of contamination from this dangerous material?

Let us not forget the extent of the seriousness of this matter. People who work at the Belconnen landfill are, potentially, being poisoned by lead. There is a risk that that has occurred. We all hope that that will not be the case. We all hope that those people have not been put at risk. But we will not know until they have had the medical tests that the Minister has outlined. That is the bottom line here. People have been exposed to a dangerous substance. They should not have been exposed for the period that the

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