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Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Page: 8977


Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (15:40): I, and also on behalf of Senator Xenophon, move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) that 23 November to 27 November 2015 is Asbestos Awareness Week,

(ii) the success of the Second International Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management hosted by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency in Brisbane from 22 November to 24 November 2015,

(iii) that mesothelioma is a cancer generally caused by exposure to asbestos fibres,

(iv) that Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world,

(v) that as many as 40 000 Australians will be diagnosed with asbestos-related injuries in the next 20 years, and

(vi) that recently Australians have been exposed to a wide range of imported goods and materials containing asbestos that have not been detected by our customs services, including fibre cement sheets and children's crayons;

(b) supports the Asbestos Awareness Month 2015 national campaign which aims to inform homeowners, renovators, tradespeople and handymen about the dangers of asbestos in and around homes and how to manage it safely; and

(c) urges Australians with questions to visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au.

I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator SINGH: This week is Asbestos Awareness Week, yet James Hardie is reducing its support for asbestos victims, which is both unjustified and immoral. The company's interim profit statement shows that its contributions to the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund were slashed by 44 per cent last financial year. That is despite Hardie's interim profits increasing by 22 per cent to more than $260 million. James Hardie must immediately step up to ensure that the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund is properly funded. Having the compensation fund run dry while Hardie's profits soar is a slap in the face to its victims. Australia has some of the highest rates of asbestos cancer—mesothelioma—in the world.

Question agreed to.