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REINSW calls for Asbestos Act to protect consumers

4 March 2016

An Asbestos Act which makes it mandatory to disclose asbestos in buildings should be introduced.

The REINSW board has gone on the front foot and called on the NSW Government to create a specific agency through an Act of Parliament to address the serious issues surrounding asbestos.

Currently in NSW there is no specific government agency responsible for containing asbestos, or a state-wide plan to manage and eradicate it.

REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin said: “We urgently need an Asbestos Act which would create an agency to oversee the issue to protect consumers.

“Back in 2010 the Ombudsman came up with a solution which, although it has significant costs attached to it, should be implemented.”

Whilst REINSW acknowledges that some progress is being made, it is slow and piecemeal. 

For example the NSW Government has agreed to provide free sample testing for loose-fill asbestos for a number of local government areas. For more information on this testing, visit NSW Fair Trading or call Service NSW on 13 77 88.

Tim added: “We are going to lobby the government on this issue because it is a real problem and the NSW Government are not tackling it in a coordinated way.”

For example the current regulations require workplaces to maintain an Asbestos Register to detail the location of all asbestos, but there is no requirement for private dwellings.

REINSW agrees with the Ombudsman's report that this is a serious safety issue and believe it should be mandatory that relevant information about the presence of asbestos in any building or site to be revealed to occupiers, owners and purchasers.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics report reveals that 1,014 people died in NSW from mesothelioma, for which there is no known cure, after being exposed to asbestos from 2002-2006. It is estimated that by 2020 Australia will have 13,000 cases of mesothelioma and a further 40,000 asbestos-related cancers.