AUSTRALIA’S buildings must be asbestos free by 2030 regardless of the cost of the widespread removal of the deadly construction product, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) says.
ACTU president Ged Kearney today called for an independent asbestos authority to be established to carry out a nationwide audit and removal of the material which can cause terminal lung diseases.
Ms Kearney could not put a price-tag on a national removal scheme but said the cost was irrelevant.
“The cost of lives… cannot be measured in dollar terms. We must put resources into this and we must make absolutely sure we get Australia asbestos free.”
Asbestos was mined and widely used in Australian buildings, primarily in cement sheeting, from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Exposure to asbestos caused over 9000 cases of the terminal cancer mesothelioma between 1982 and 2006, the ACTU says.
Ms Kearney said the 2030 target was realistic but only if the Federal Government’s asbestos management review laid out a comprehensive national plan when the final report is submitted in June.
“To achieve this we’re going to need a national audit of all asbestos containing material with government buildings and dumps as a priority,” she told reporters in Melbourne.
“We want a prioritised removal program starting with government owned sites and we want to make sure asbestos is only removed by licenced removalists.”