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NSW Libs break ranks and follow our lead on PFAS compo

As a Hunter-based Senator, I have personally met with residents that ‘live’ in the so-called PFAS contaminated red zone, around the Williamtown RAAF base, and I have listened to their desperate pleas for compensation. There are 50 cases of cancer now uncovered just on one rural NSW road alone (Cabbage Tree Rd, Williamtown), yet our Federal government is saying that there is no consistent evidence that PFAS could cause health effects in humans. Authorities in the U.S. dispute this, after 21 cancer cases were found at a high school in Minnesota which had a high exposure to PFAS.

PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl chemicals) has been used in firefighting foams on military bases and around industrial areas, and there are 90 sites across Australia that have been contaminated, totalling 1150 square kilometres of land or 20 Sydney Harbours. Already, internationally, 171 countries have banned one of the chemicals in the family, perfluorooctane sultanate, and although our defence force no longer uses PFAS-containing firefighting foams for training, they are still used in emergency situations where life is at risk.

After spending years calling for the federal government to buy-out people’s property in these effected areas, where remediation of the sites is not possible, it is good to see that the NSW State Government has finally taken my lead and also started pressuring its federal counterpart to compensate people in these areas.

I continue to be disappointed in both Labor and the federal Liberal government who voted against voluntary buy-outs in the Senate and I call on them to once again reconsider their position and for Labor to announce what their policy will be on this issue, if elected to government.

It is bad enough when corporations pollute, harm the environment and people’s health. However, it is unforgivable when a government does it and then refuses to compensate its victims.