Friday, March 7, 2008

Demand asbestos answers by Tuesday

STOP PRESS – An Office of Housing website update today states that asbestos removal works have been stalled 'due to delays in disconnecting electricity on site by power authorities', and that a new schedule will be advised. A window of opportunity has opened. Please read the following, and get your emails, letters and calls into Richardson and/or Wynne as soon as possible.

I had a bit of a walk around the Roberts Street redevelopment site after work this afternoon to see if the site establishment works had begun for the asbestos removal – they were scheduled to begin last Monday, 3 March.

No movement as yet, but this school fete advertisement struck me as an eloquent statement of what's at stake here in the lead-up to asbestos removal works scheduled to start in earnest next Tuesday, 11 March. Why can't the government answer basic questions about asbestos safety that arise from their own documents when the health of the community, and of our children, is at stake? Their empty flyers reassure us that all appropriate steps are being taken, yet they have consistently delayed the release of information and have failed to answer questions put to them on 18 January and many times since.

After walking around the site, I went down to the park and spoke to four or five families who weren't at Wednesday's public meeting. I outlined the case to halt the works until more information is released and time has been allowed for its consideration. I asked people to get in touch with Richardson and/or Wynne to express their concerns over such poor public communication and potential cut corners with asbestos safety. No-one felt they'd been properly informed. Most were only vaguely aware of the issue of asbestos, let alone the Tuesday start. They were concerned, when moments earlier it was just another sunny late afternoon at the park.

With the works to commence this Tuesday, it's getting late in the day, but it's not too late to voice your protest by calling Northcote MP, Fiona Richardson, on 9481 5777 or emailing as soon as possible on Tuesday. You could also call housing minister, Richard Wynne, on 9096 7722 or email If you have friends in the area, or who are regular visitors to the park, encourage them to do the same.

If, as is likely, you're told that everything is in order, ask why they haven't answered the ten questions sent to them on 18 January, how their reply to ABC Stateline is going, and whether they think we really deserve such a poor level of information just days away from the start of demolition works.

In particular, ask them where are the results of the further testing recommended by their own audit, where is the demolition contractor's asbestos control plan, and why not all asbestos will be removed before the buildings come down. That should set them thinking, but will it stop the demolition works until the answers are known?

Monday evening could be crowded down at the park – one last chance for a dust-free play on the swings for our children. Maybe I'll see you down there.

Other posts of interest:

More wasted paper, recycled answers
Thanks for coming to the public meeting!

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