Mark Buttigieg – SO52 – Transport Asbestos Register – 27 February 2020 – Closing Speech

Mark Buttigieg – SO52 – Transport Asbestos Register – 27 February 2020 – Closing Speech

February 29, 2020 0 By Kailee Schamberger


I will address some of the arguments for why
this motion can wait for three months or six months. In the meantime, the workers will not know
whether they are being exposed to asbestos in the workplace. The idea of putting people in that situation
in the first place, let alone create more delay and more uncertainty, beggars belief. I point out to my colleague the Hon. Mark Latham and Minister Tudehope that the
Opposition is not referring to something that theoretically has to be created out of thin
air. The information should already exist. It is pretty much an Excel spreadsheet. What happens is that the organisation does
a forensic audit of all the asbestos located throughout its workplace, if it is complying
with the law. The organisation puts that information into
an Excel spreadsheet and it is available to employees usually through online access or
on paper. It will not take up six months of resources. Order! Interjections are disorderly. I ask the Hon. Mark Buttigieg to not respond to the Minister. The Hon. Mark Buttigieg will proceed. Complying with this request will not take
600 people working in an office for two months to produce. It is either there or it is not. Tell us: That is what we want to know. If it is not there, we need to do something
about it. If it is there, that is great. We can give it to the people. The amendment moved by my colleague Mr David
Shoebridge makes some very reasonable suggestions. I have to concede that the call for papers
under Standing Order 52 was drafted a little bit broadly in terms of “all legislative compliance
registers”, so the Opposition is happy to delete that. Essentially the amendments allow more time
for the production of things that will take time, such as the health monitoring records
in which the identity of employees will have to be redacted for privacy. Admittedly, that will take more time because
of the labour intensity associated with it. The Opposition is prepared to wear the 28
days for the health records but will not accept that the Government cannot produce an asbestos
register, which should already exist, by simply pressing a button or collating a number of
spreadsheets. As I said earlier, the information either
is there or it is not. The request is not resource intensive at all. Over and above what I have already said, there
has been 18 months of prevarication, obfuscation and delay. It is not good enough that workers trade off
their health and their future because the Government now wishes to use the cop-out excuses
of bushfires and the XPT to claim it does not have the resources to respond to the motion. That is not good enough. The workers’ health is in question and the
Opposition will not wear that.