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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (12 October) . . Page.. 2956 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Why this is particularly of concern is that there already has been an incident at the tip with the sullage pond. Not very long ago, a couple of years ago, there was contamination at the sullage pond by hydrocarbons. After a fuss was made about the contamination in the sullage pond, once again by the union, there was a meeting held, after the fact once again. There was agreement that perhaps a better way of managing what is coming in to the tip is to have random tests. That was agreed. There would be random tests so that we could keep an eye on what is coming in. Now, if that was agreed, why has that principle not been applied to other substances such as this material which has been coming in for three years now? No-one looked at it until the union did.

Another question asked by Mr Kaine in this debate was: Why did the union not go to management? Well, we know that the union did go to management and we know that management did not respond. We know that there was an agreement made later after the union sought to get testing of the floc. All that was agreed to at that meeting basically was that yes, the union was getting tests done, and that the union was putting a ban on movement by their workers about floc. That was agreed to. There was not really a choice, I would have suggested.

What is really disappointing is that waste management did not themselves get in there and take a very proactive and precautionary approach to this potential hazard. The material did keep coming in from New South Wales. In fact, it was not stopped until the Government got its own test results which confirmed the results of the union.

Mr Moore brought a rather bizarre aspect into the debate. He suddenly tried to distract from the matters of substance that I had raised in this debate by trying somehow to make me personally liable for putting my own health at risk as well as the health of other people who were there. The point that obviously has to be made for a start is that his chief health officer says in the statement that lead poisoning becomes a significant health issue only after prolonged periods of exposure. I thought that was given and accepted. I worked on lead poisoning in my previous work and, as far as I knew, that in fact is the case.

If Mr Moore is saying today that I endangered my health and the health of other people there by standing between piles of floc - by the way, I was very careful not to walk on them or to disturb them - one has to ask the question, "Why was the tip open?". There were members of the public very close to the floc who were dumping rubbish. I think Mr Moore has behaved quite irresponsibly in trying to defend Mr Smyth in an indefensible position by attempting to distract the debate in the bizarre way he did. He has made himself look quite silly as Minister for Health by doing that. (Extension of time granted)

I have not heard Mr Osborne speak at all about this. I also would like to refer quickly to Mr Rugendyke's amendment. He is asking that we omit from my paragraph (2) the words "assure the Assembly that the recent events at the Landfill will not occur again by providing". We are asking that there be provision of a strategy for improving practices at the tip. So Mr Rugendyke does not want to ask that the Assembly be given an assurance that they are going to improve their work practices so that we will not see this kind of incident occur again. It is very hard to understand why he would do that. I do not think he has argued it at all.

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