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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13374

Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (11:35): I second the motion. There is not one word that the member for Charlton spoke that I have a problem with. In fact, I support him in every remark that he made. Asbestosis is a deplorable disease and there are not many places I can go in Australia where I cannot find someone affected by this disease. I recognise, as the member who just spoke did, some heroes in my area—particularly Vicki Hamilton from GARDS, Gippsland Asbestos Related Disease Support. The work that they do very important people because we come from the industrial area of the Latrobe Valley. We have all the asbestos laws, but none of us are immune to home renovations. Just recently, I was watching a contractor work. He rigged up this whole thing just to put a hot-water service in—just to drill four holes—because, as he said to me, 'My dad died of this disease.' My drummer's mum, Laura, died of this disease a while ago. I have spoken about that before. She never had any contact with asbestos, but she washed her husband's overalls. There are people who can live with asbestos for the whole of their life and never have a problem with it, and there are some who get sick at the merest touch of it. I am personally guilty of doing renovations involving asbestos. No-one ever told us all those years ago that there was a problem with taking the asbestos, throwing it in a trailer, taking it to the tip, dumping it and then going back for the next lot.

I holiday with my family at Phillip Island, where so many of the homes are just built out of asbestos. Even the newer homes are built out of asbestos. For the old ones built during the war, they had to get any material they could from anywhere to build their homes, and they did. There is nowhere you can walk on Phillip Island where you cannot pick up a piece of asbestos. My own son said to me, 'Dad, what's asbestos?' I just reached down to the ground and picked a piece up and said, 'That's asbestos.' The member for Charlton would say, 'You shouldn't have picked that up, Russell. You should've had gloves on when you picked it up.'

The message that is coming through is that we want local governments, state governments and federal governments to be aware of this issue, because we are not talking about a few people who may be affected and infected by this horrific and completely debilitating disease. You talk to the people who have the disease and are dealing with it—and our best efforts cannot save their lives if they are infected by this shocking, horrible disease.

The member for Charlton mentioned our past and, particularly, James Hardie. I understand what he is saying, but our past is our past. We need to address that appropriately and financially on behalf of those who need to receive benefits and lump-sum payouts, because, quite often, their lives are very short and they actually need a lump-sum payout, not an instalment, for themselves and for their family to deal with the issue—and they are dealing with the issue of death. We are dealing with the issue of death. We are not saying that this is a cold that you get and get over; this is something that you get and it actually kills you. The message that we are giving to everybody is: do not do your own renovations. Do not think you can break the rules, because it may not be you who dies. It could be your daughter working around you while you are doing the renovations. It could be your son who dies because of the renovations that you may be doing around your home because you think it is going to be cheaper: 'I don't have to get the guy in. I don't have to wrap it in the plastic three times. I don't have to carry it in and then take it to the tip and get it weighed and pay the extra money.' It is your own children under threat, it is your community under threat and it is those around you who are under threat when you do these sorts of renovations.

We are sending a very strong message here: this is a dangerous product; it will kill you. I applaud the Vicki Hamiltons of this world, the union movement that supports me in all these things and the contractors and the workers who make a difference to the people in the streets. We are a nation that is addressing this issue. We need to do something internationally with regard to India, Russia and the other places who are still producing this stuff and still using it as a material. It is a disgrace and we have got a long way to go.