Page 3704 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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the full history of the Mr Fluffy legacy and report by 1 March 2016. I think the reason those members recommended that is that for those who participated in that inquiry—although not a member of the committee, I was there for the public hearings—the evidence was quite compelling. The need for such an inquiry was established and the time frame was provided by the committee because the committee obviously formed a view that this was not something that should be put into the never-never, that this was not something that needed to be delayed, but that this is something that could be done concurrently with the demolition process. The task force would not be conducting the inquiry, as has been asserted by the government. It would be done independent of the task force—although, of course, they would be required to participate.

The government, in their response to the committee, noted that they agreed that there was a need to consider the entirety of the history of the issue. The government did not agree to start straightaway, but they agreed that there was a need to have an inquiry. In September this year, in response to a question in the Assembly, Mr Barr said:

I never disagreed with the need to establish a board of inquiry; the areas of disagreement have been the timing and what was the most important series of tasks. The Leader of the Opposition has outlined a number of important tasks that have been completed, but it remains the government’s view that there is still more important work to be done by the task force. As such, it will prioritise those areas. A board of inquiry remains important, but not the most important thing to be done at this point in time.

In answer to a supplementary, he said:

The question is not one of disagreement over whether a board of inquiry will be established; it is one of priorities.

In response to that, I would argue, firstly, that we can do things concurrently. There is now a broad operational phase for the task force, a demolition process to be conducted. With the major parts of legislation, as I said, the acquisition and appropriation of the funds have occurred. To say that you can only do demolition over five years or however long it takes and then have an inquiry is arrant nonsense.

On 1 July 2015, the ABC published a story headed “Mr Fluffy: New inquiry expected on loose-fill asbestos” in which it was reported:

A board of inquiry will be announced on Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos to examine how multiple governments have dealt with the problem … Andrew Barr confirmed he will create an inquiry to consider the handling of the issue … “We will in due course,” he said.

There seems to be agreement that there is a requirement for the inquiry. It is now, seemingly, a debate over time lines. There is a view that comes from the government, this odd view, that an inquiry can occur only once the demolition has been completed, it seems. It is nonsense.

Ms Porter and Ms Berry, in this Assembly, tabled a report calling on the government to do it. The government agrees that we need to get on with this. So let us get on with

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