Thursday, 7 December 2017
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Joint Committee; Reference
I, and also on behalf of Senator Farrell and Senator Rhiannon, move:
That the following matter be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade for inquiry and report by 20 June 2018:
The Turnbull Government's management of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in and around Defence bases, with particular reference to:
(a) the extent of contamination in and around Defence bases, including water, soil, other natural assets and built structures;
(b) the response of, and coordination between, agencies of the Commonwealth Government, including, but not limited to, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Health, the Department of the Environment and Energy, the Department of Defence and the Australian Defence Force;
(c) communication and coordination with state and territory governments, local councils, affected local communities and businesses, and other interested stakeholders;
(d) the adequacy of health advice and testing of current and former defence and civilian personnel and members of the public exposed in and around Defence bases identified as potentially affected by contamination;
(e) the adequacy of Commonwealth and state and territory government environmental and human health standards and legislation, and any other relevant legislation;
(f) remediation works at the bases; and
(g) what consideration has been given to understanding and addressing any financial impact to affected businesses and individuals.
by leave—I move an amendment to the motion:
Omit "Turnbull Government's" and substitute "Commonwealth Government's".
This is consistent with the amendment that has been circulated in the chamber and as discussed and spoken about with the crossbench.
The government is implementing measures both on and off site at RAAF Base Williamtown that address the primary exposure pathways mitigating further migration of PFAS from the base and reducing 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 PFAS task force, coordinated by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, is leading the whole-of-government response and considering potential options to assist affected communities.