Asbestos lobby success

A Latrobe Valley advocacy group has had a major win after successfully campaigning to remove a Federal Government-sanctioned asbestos guide.

Federal Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten told an asbestos summit in Sydney said the leaflet contained “misleading information” and was taking steps to have it removed.

“I’m grateful to the Gippsland advocacy group who raised this issue with me about information put out in another ministry,” Mr Shorten said.

“There are no safe exposure levels, full stop. So that’s misleading. We’ve spoken with the Health Department getting the chief medical officers together – there is a Council of Australian Governments process. But that material, I don’t support.”

The Gippsland Asbestos Related Diseases Support group lobbied to have the guide scrapped since the leaflet was in draft form in 2010.

When it was published in May this year the group lobbied harder to have it removed, according to GARDS chief executive Vicki Hamilton.

The leaflet, published by enHealth, titled ‘Asbestos: a guide for householders and the general public’, was aimed to inform the public, including home owners, about asbestos.

Ms Hamilton was at the summit and said she was “ecstatic” the leaflet was being removed.

“Since May we have been hot on the trail of knocking on every door in parliament trying to get people to listen to us to say we shouldn’t have the book, it’s dangerous; it needs to be recalled,” Ms Hamilton said.

She said the leaflet was misleading, telling homeowners not to worry “when they really should be”.

“In that book there were things that were not right and information that was harmful to the community,” she said.

“If they took what was in that book and didn’t take guidelines to keep themselves safe they would actually expose themselves to a very dangerous carcinogenic product.

“We’ve had assurances that the book will be recalled.”