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Depot asbestos questions deferred

Greens MP David Shoebridge says he will repose questions to the NSW Legislative Council regarding the alleged dumping of asbestos at the site for Clarence Valley Council’s proposed depot at South Grafton. Mr Shoebridge directed the following questions to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, and Vice-President of the Executive Council representing the Minister for Local Government on March 23. “SafeWork NSW has recently investigated, and confirmed the occurrence of possibly illegally dumped asbestos waste by Clarence Valley Council, immediately adjacent to a residential area and next door to the South Grafton High School. Council is proposing to excavate that site to construct a works depot. “What actions will the Minister take to ensure that Clarence Valley Council is responding adequately to repeated requests from concerned citizens for information relating to the asbestos dumping and potential health implications? “Given this asbestos pollution has been brought to the Minister’s attention, what steps has the Minister taken to address the potential health risks that students, teachers and workers may have been exposed to? “Given that this asbestos dumping has been confirmed by SafeWork NSW, and that neighbours have never been informed, what regulatory action will be taken against those responsible?” However, on April 27 the question was deferred, according to Hansard: “Answer: This matter is the responsibility of the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation. “Question asked on 23 March 2016 (session 56-1) and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 53. “Answer received on 27 April 2016 and to be printed in a Questions & Answers Paper on 3 May 2016.” Mr Shoebridge told the Independent that a local Greens member from the Clarence Valley, who had concerns raised from a number of quarters, brought the matter to his attention. On the government’s answer, he said: “It’s not unusual for the government to, rather than refer your answer to the appropriate minister, which they can do, give you the run around and seek to put some delay on providing an intelligible response. “We will tomorrow [Tuesday May 3], when parliament returns, direct it to the identified minister. “We believe that both the minister for local government and the minister responsible for SafeWork NSW should have had a role in addressing this. “Clearly, they’ve done nothing, and that’s why we’ll be directing the enquiries to [Innovation and Better Regulation] Minister Victor Dominello. “We remain in hope that they’ve actually done something.”