Extract taken from The Sunshine Coast Daily:
THE Australian Council of Trade Unions has called for an independent inquiry to investigate how materials containing asbestos continue to enter the country.
The council has called on the federal government to introduce tough new penalties for those caught importing the deadly substance.
It also seeks any potential inquiry to investigate whether border forces are adequately funded to detect asbestos importation.
The Queensland Government announced a $400,000 asbestos repair fund on Thursday aimed at carrying out urgent rectification works at hazardous properties across the state.
Industrial Relations Minister Curtis Pitt said timely asbestos removal was an important public health and safety issue.
“Nothing is more important than protecting Queenslanders from the risks posed by asbestos fibres and that is exactly what this new fund aims to do,” he said.
Australia banned asbestos importation in 2004 but the substance is still found in materials being imported from China and Indonesia.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick has called for a crack down on asbestos importation.
“Asbestos has already killed many thousands of Australians and sadly the full impact of asbestos-related diseases is not expected to peak until 2020.” “The Abbott Government must urgently provide greater resources to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to ensure they are equipped to enforce the ban on asbestos.” “We need tougher action and more resources to ensure those who flout the bans on asbestos importation are prosecuted.” “If nothing is done to crack down on the importation of products containing asbestos, the lives of more Australians will be placed at risk.”