Minister’s asbestos review too late

6 Oct 2009 4:39 PMJann Stuckey

6 October 2009

State Minister for Public Works Robert Schwarten has been accused of dragging his feet on safe asbestos handling in schools across Queensland after failures by QBuild workers at Caningeraba State School. 

LNP Public Works spokeswoman Jann Stuckey said it was evident that Queensland families could not trust the Minister when he said he was paying “close attention” to asbestos issues in schools. 

“Today’s announcement of another review by the Minister into asbestos handling practices undertaken by his departmental workers shows he has been neglectful for some time,” said Ms Stuckey.

“The best Mr Schwarten can do is order another investigation involving QBuild and Workplace Health & Safety Queensland, and that may take several months. 

“Notably the last one, ordered as a result of the Caningeraba school incident in June, was not even tabled by the Minister until September despite being completed in July.

“The report contained numerous failings by workers to conduct safe asbestos removal procedures, and no doubt this new one will come up with similar findings.

“Why is the truth so hard to swallow? We don’t need another review to tell us his training programs aren’t adequate.

“It is worrying that only 56 per cent of Qbuild staff have been trained to safely handle asbestos and then only at a level (B) class licence…. and not a single QBuild employee has an ‘A’ class licence.

“If the Minister is serious he must ensure that every QBuild employee who handles asbestos has an asbestos removal licence.

“We have a Minister who accuses the Opposition of playing base politics when he has already been caught out not doing his homework on unsafe asbestos. 

“Today’s actions today do not go far enough.

“The safety of the children, teachers, families and workers in public buildings should be the top priority for the Minister,” Ms Stuckey said.
Media contact: Jann Stuckey 0439 755 919