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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4790

National Broadband Network


Mr HARTSUYKER (Cowper) (14:45): My question is the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. In September 2012 NBN Co. issued a request for capability statements for contractors that included 'toxic waste and asbestos removal' as part of the description of work to be undertaken. How many NBN Co. contactors have so far undertaken asbestos removal? What training and accreditation is required by NBN Co. before it hires contractors for this work?


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:45): I appreciate the member for Cowper promoting me to Minister for Communications. I will take some of that question on notice to find out the answers to the matters to do with NBN Co., which is not in my portfolio. But what I can say in answer to the question about asbestos and training is that I have represented the debate about asbestos, the victims of asbestos and people being exposed to asbestos while I was with the union. I have done this alongside many of the other representatives of the union movement throughout the history of dealing with asbestos.

I have certainly also represented issues about people being exposed to asbestos while I have been in the parliament. I have also represented them upon becoming minister for workplace relations and in making sure that we get the recommendations to the asbestos management review and also upon implementing the recommendations. I also believe I was representing them when I was there on Saturday with the member for Lindsay, Mr Bradbury, the Assistant Treasurer. I believe that I was representing people today, along with the member for Ballarat, the member for Lindsay and the communications minister, by making sure that—

Mr Hartsuyker: Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The question was very specific. How many contractors have so far undertaken asbestos removal? What training and accreditation are required before NBN Co. hires them?

The SPEAKER: The minister has the call and will be relevant to the question.

Mr SHORTEN: I thank the member for Cowper. I tell you one thing I have never done: I have never represented the companies in court who made the asbestos and damaged workers.

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will return to the question.

Mr SHORTEN: I will tell you what I have also done: I have never insulted the victims of asbestos and their campaigners.