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    31   Asbestos Awareness Week

Ms Saffin, pursuant to notice, moved—That this House:

(1)    notes that as National Asbestos Awareness Week is formally recognised, it makes earnest representation to the Government to continue to call on Canada to ratify the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent;

(2)    recognises the proactive actions of the Australian Government in mitigating the possible spread of asbestos related diseases through continuing bans on the production and use of asbestos as well as strict controls on the removal and disposal of existing material;

(3)    commends the Australian Government on a number of measures that have been put into place to manage and compensate the victims of asbestos related diseases which include:

(a)    the recent ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Asbestos Convention, as one of the first ILO Conventions to be ratified by the Commonwealth Government since 2006;

(b)   Australian leadership on a strong closing declaration by 66 countries at the 2011 Conference of the Rotterdam Convention, which expressed deep concern that the listing of chrysotile asbestos had been prevented by a small number of parties and resolved to move forward to list chrysotile asbestos in Annex III;

(c)    the $5 million grant made to support the Asbestos Disease Research Institute Bernie Banton Centre;

(d)   funding for the new Australian Mesothelioma Registry, which was launched in 2010 to gather more detailed and accurate information on mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases;

(e)    support for the harmonisation of health and safety legislation which will provide, for the first time, a uniform framework for the minimisation of exposure, the removal of asbestos, and the management of asbestos materials in the workplace;

(f)    the establishment of the Asbestos Management Review in late 2010 to recommend strategies for the development of a national strategic plan to improve asbestos awareness, management and removal;

(g)   the loan agreement with the NSW Government to ensure asbestos victims and their families continue to receive payments through the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund; and

(h)   the $1.5 million Comcare Asbestos Innovation Fund which sponsors programs and research to prevent and better manage asbestos exposure, as well as improve treatment for asbestos-disease sufferers;

(4)    notes the unwelcome inheritance that asbestos has left on the Australian community, which sees Australian citizens suffering one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world, with the effects of asbestos mining still being suffered by many, mostly Indigenous and past employees of James Hardie’s operation at Baryulgil in the electoral division of Page, and the poor health and mortality they and their families suffer;

(5)    extends its profound sympathies to all individuals suffering asbestos-related diseases as well as their friends and families and the friends and families of those who have passed away as a result of asbestos-related diseases;

(6)    notes the current and potential damage that imported asbestos is creating to the people in the Asia Pacific region where, despite these well documented health risks, it remains an attractive commodity due to its low cost compared to other comparable building material;

(7)    calls upon the Canadian Government to recognise the potentially catastrophic health and social implications of Canada’s production and sale of asbestos and products containing asbestos to these lower socio-economic markets; and

(8)    supports the Australian Government in using strong diplomatic efforts to convince the Canadian Government to cease both production and trade in asbestos.

Debate ensued.

The time allotted for the debate having expired, the debate was interrupted, and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting.