“I met this morning with Senator James McGrath, the head of the Turnbull Government’s PFAS Taskforce, and he told me he will come to Williamtown next Wednesday, May 17, to meet with residents.
I am heartened and encouraged by this, and I look forward to introducing the Senator to people in my community who are understandably angry and anxious about the contamination of their properties and their bodies with these chemicals that have leached from the RAAF base.
The Budget included $26.5 million in health and research measures, which was good, but did not address the issues of economic loss; aside from saying it was a “liability” for the government.
I am hoping Senator McGrath’s visit will expedite a solution for people who want to get out.
To see Williamtown and PFAS in the budget is a minor victory, but much more should have been done.
Before the election last year this government promised $55 million from the existing Defence budget would be spent to manage, contain and remediate PFAS at Defence bases.
In this budget we have $12.5 million to be spent over 4 years on a national research program into the health effects of PFAS, and another $14million across 4 years for health-related initiatives to support the communities in Williamtown and Oakey.
Tucked away in “liabilities” the budget mentions that there are “litigation cases” and claims for compensation for loss, injury or damage arising from the Defence use of PFAS chemicals.
But these are described as “unquantifiable”.
So there is no actual money allocated for compensation for economic loss for people in Williamtown and Oakey in this Budget and the government has no idea how much money will be required.
We know from Senate estimates there are claims in; we know there has been economic loss.
We know from the NSW Valuer General that properties have been devalued by at least 15%.
And we now know that people living in the red zone have very high levels of PFAs in their blood.
The time for talk is over. I am hoping Senator McGrath’s visit will expedite some action.”