Asbestos hysteria – time to fix the problem permanently

I note a fantastic blog post today from Michael Wyres who has distilled the hysteria surrounding what appears to be a massive mishandling of asbestos-containing material during remediation works by Telstra-engaged contractors.

Call me a pessimist, but the amping up of an issue by the Coalition and their supporters (just look on Twitter for the ridiculous anger) for political gain is all bluster and bother. As Wyres writes:

To their credit, Telstra seems prepared to take responsibility for the issue. Given they are contractually obliged to do so, this seems a fairly straightforward position for them to take. Steps are already underway to make good on the issue.

This appears to go against the whole Coalition Narrative of ‘Bad policy, bad asbestos, bad government (because we didn’t win the 2010 election), stop the boats’. Once again we see a complete lack of objectivity from the right. Well done guys, your continued empty slogans, lack of credible policy and xenophobic dog whistling have stopped this coalition voter from sending my vote your way.

Malcolm Turnbull has also tried to take political advantage of the asbestos issue by stating:

“Because we will simply bring fibre out to the distribution point, the street cabinet, all of the conduits and pits beyond that – the ones outside people’s houses for example – will not be disturbed at all.”

Wyres takes a big issue with the concept of leaving a dangerous substance where it is, believing it a folly:

The thing that irks me the most is that the Coalition seems to have stuck their head in the ground – (no pun intended) – on the issue. Under [the Coalition] plan, most of the asbestos lined pits in your street, in front of your house, or even in your garden, are going to be left there.

Would you be happy with that?

No Michael. I would not be happy with that at all. Do we leave any sort of chemical contamination around the streets we live? Of course we do not just leave it there. Instead it is cleaned up, any contaminated soil for proper disposal or storage.

Why is asbestos any different?

In the last few months my employer was looking to move into a larger premises. After signing a lease and starting fitout of network cabling, our cabling contractor disturbed and found asbestos in the building. Not just sheeting but loose insulation in the roof space. This was a building I spent about 3 hours in in. Since the building does not meet the regulations surrounding asbestos, we were able to terminate the lease immediately.

It is time that we as a community work towards a full removal of asbestos in our community, whether it is Telstra pit & pipe infrastructure, or is private homes or commercial buildings.

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