Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 December 2017


RAAF Williamtown

3:54 pm

Photo of Lee RhiannonLee Rhiannon (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I inform the chamber that Senator Singh will also sponsor this motion. I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 653 standing in my name, relating to RAAF Williamtown.

Leave granted.

I, and also on behalf of Senator Singh, move the motion as amended:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

  (i) the 2016 Senate committee inquiry into contamination of Australia's Defence Force facilities and other Commonwealth, state and territory sites in Australia, concluded that there were many points of failure in the Department of Defence's response to PFOS/PFOA contamination at RAAF Williamtown, and

  (ii) on 19 November 2017, the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority announced that the investigation area adjacent to RAAF Williamtown, known as the "red zone", had been expanded by 50%, drawing in a further 250 households; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to:

  (i) coordinate urgent action to stop the continued contamination around RAAF Williamtown,

  (ii) extend and improve testing regimes for blood and the surrounding environment, and

  (iii) explain, by 5 February 2018, what consideration has been given to understanding and addressing any financial impacts on affected businesses and individuals.

3:55 pm

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President, Special Minister of State) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The government is implementing measures both on and off site at RAAF Williamtown which address the primary exposure pathways, mitigate against further migration of PFAS from the base and reduce PFAS in the environment. Defence has installed three water treatment plants at the base, treating over 820 million litres of ground and surface water. Defence is excavating sediment from open drains to reduce migration of PFAS in surface water. The government has extended blood testing participation in the epidemiological study and access to dedicated mental health services for those who live or work, or have lived or worked, in the management area, including those affected by its recent expansion. The PFAS task force coordinated by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is leading the whole-of-government response and is considering potential options to assist affected communities, including at Williamtown.

Question agreed to.