Labor, The Greens and minor parties joined forces in the Senate today to send a clear message of support to those affected by PFAS contamination from RAAF Base Williamtown and call the Turnbull Government to account over its serial mismanagement and continued inaction.
The Senate motion, which was moved by the Greens and co-sponsored by Labor, condemned the Department of Defence’s response to the PFAS contamination scandal and called on the Turnbull Government to explain what consideration it had given to understanding and addressing any financial impacts on affected businesses and individuals.
The motion was the culmination of much hard work by Paterson MP Meryl Swanson and Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.
“Both Senator Rhiannon and I believe it is important that the innocent families and individuals whose lives have been paralysed by PFAS contamination know that we are fighting for them,” Ms Swanson said.
“As I’ve said all along, this issue is bigger than politics. All I want is for people in my electorate to have support and options so they can move forward with their lives.
Ms Swanson hailed the motion’s success as a positive step.
“Through this we’ve been able to pressure the Government to explain, by early February, what consideration it has given to the very real financial impacts being experienced in our community,” Ms Swanson said.
Ms Swanson said the toxic dysfunction of the Berejiklian and Turnbull governments at State and Federal level had derailed their ability to find a solution for those affected by contamination from RAAF Base Williamtown.
Last week Ms Swanson flew to Canberra for a meeting with Defence Minister The Hon. Senator Marise Payne and Head of the PFAS Taskforce The Hon. James McGrath.
During the meeting, Senators McGrath and Payne assured Ms Swanson that a number of options were being considered and that Defence stood ready to do whatever it was asked by Government.
However, little progress has been made on the matter in more than two years, and the people of Williamtown are now facing a third bleak Christmas under the shroud of PFAS.
“The Turnbull government can’t get its act together to formulate a plan of action for the people of Williamtown, and the Berejiklian government appears to be at odds with the Federal Department of Defence,” Ms Swanson said.
The disconnect between the Federal and State conservative governments was glaringly obvious during yesterday’s community consultation meetings at Williamtown, where the Department of Defence released a map that differed substantially to the map distributed by the NSW EPA/Health just two weeks prior.