Australia Confronts Asbestos Disaster 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



A devastating epidemic sweeping through Australia has sensitized the public to the scandalous use of asbestos, a known carcinogen, at home and abroad. In the aftermath of the Wittenoom and James Hardie tragedies, asbestos is a dirty word in Australia. The November 8 broadcast of the program: India: A Toxic Trade by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed a sad truth: the asbestos no longer required in Australia and other developed countries is being dumped in Asia. Footage and interviews shot in India by reporter Matt Peacock revealed the hypocrisy of national and foreign asbestos entrepreneurs who defend the growing use of asbestos in India even as deadly exposures choke the life out of debilitated workers and members of the community

The day after the broadcast went out, Australian Senator Bob Brown, the leader of the Australian Green Party, tabled a motion (see:Notice of Motion), seconded by Senator Lisa Singh, that highlighted the dangers of the global asbestos trade, condemned Canada's attempts to forestall progress to regulate this trade and urged the “Australian government to use strong diplomatic efforts to convince the Canadian Government to cease both production and trade in asbestos.” The motion concluded with a plea that the World Health Organization and International Labor Organization push forwards plans for a global ban on asbestos.

In just under a fortnight, the first meeting will take place in Canberra of the Parliamentary Group on Asbestos Related Disease (PGARD), an apolitical group of Federal MPs and Senators who hope to coordinate efforts to raise awareness of asbestos-related disease and prevent further deadly exposures.

November 10, 2011



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