House debates

Monday, 3 June 2013

Questions without Notice

National Broadband Network

2:28 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) Share this | Hansard source

I will refer to the question in terms of my answer. The issue which has prompted the member for Wentworth's question, of course, has been the most recent reports about asbestos exposure in Penrith and, indeed, the role of Telstra and contractors, and responsibility for that exposure.

The first point I want to make in coming to the answer of the member's question is this: asbestos should not be a political football. I met with a family whose 11-week-old child may have been exposed to asbestos. This is a very serious matter. This is why I do not believe it is appropriate that we use exposure to asbestos in a political way, which the member for Wentworth is doing. What is it about asbestos exposure which the opposition do not get? It is not politics; it actually should be above politics.

The second point I wish to make is that the meeting we had just before has agreed—stakeholders, including Telstra and contractors, have agreed—that there should be, for the first time ever, a national public health register for exposure. That is a very important breakthrough. And it does not just extend to employees or contractors. Under this Labor government, which has got a track record of tackling asbestos, what we will do is establish a public health register. Those opposite had 12 years to do it when they were in power, and they just did not do it.


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