Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (12 October) . . Page.. 2952 ..
MR BERRY: The pharmacist over here says, "No, there's no danger", but the tip has been closed. Why has it been closed? It is because there is a problem. That is why. Now, let us go to the Minister's statements. The Minister said in his press statement:
There are strict procedures for handling and accepting waste.
Not in this case. There was one test four years ago. That is misleading. That is dangerous. The Minister's statement continued:
As soon as management was alerted by staff of this concern, it acted and undertook the process of testing the questionable load.
Not true. It continued to accept unacceptable loads for three weeks. Mr Moore tried to rely on this statement earlier on but abandoned that part of his argument in the end, sensibly, I say, because it in itself was quite inaccurate.
Mr Speaker, this is about a Minister who has form. It has been noted in this place before, and it is on the record in this place before. Issues around misrepresentation have been dealt with in this place and decided upon. Mr Speaker, how much longer have we got to put up with this sort of stuff? Can this Minister wander out with honeyed words any time he likes and say what he likes, then come into this place and apologise or try to create an impression that everything is okay and that we should let him get away with it?
At one time Mr Moore would say that that would be a bit reckless and he should be censured if he recklessly misleads us, but things change when you swap sides. In this case this Minister for Urban Services has very clearly tried to create the impression out there in the community in relation to a serious public health matter that everything was okay and he was doing something about it. The fact of the matter is that everything was not okay. This Minister has done nothing over the period of his ministry. Four years have passed and there has not been significant testing in relation to the matter.
Mr Speaker, now I want to turn to Mr Kaine's comments. (Extension of time granted) Mr Kaine entered the debate earlier on. I suspect that he might have been a Minister for some period of this since 1996. The dates evade me for the moment. He complained that we might be seen to be used as tools of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union were we to censure this Minister for misleading the community. Mr Speaker, it is pretty clear, on the face of it at least, that the union had been forced to get testing done on this waste because management had not done so. The union does not spend its money for fun.
The evidence is pretty clear. Management had not done so until it was discovered that there was a problem. We end up with a situation where management, on investigating the waste, has now been forced to close the tip. That is a vindication of the union's action in the first place, Mr Speaker, and a clear demonstration that the Minister's claim that there are strict procedures was false and misleading. It misled the community on a serious public health matter. It also misled the workers on the site.