Families issue demands to Telstra over asbestos

Families issue demands to Telstra over asbestos

Summary: Affected families near asbestos-contaminated telecommunications pits in Western Sydney are demanding that Telstra make their properties safe before they return home.


Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson attended a meeting held between families affected near asbestos-contaminated telecommunications pits and Telstra officials on Tuesday.

"Clean the house, basically; the carpets, bedding, front lawns, and one back lawn," he told ABC radio on Wednesday of the demands on the telco.

The families, several of which are still in hotels, are feeling "very stressed".

Telstra is expected to give its response to the demands later on Wednesday.

Asbestos was found last week at a Telstra pit in Penrith, with further discoveries at telecommunications works in Ballarat, Perth, Adelaide, and Tasmania.

Telstra has accepted responsibility for remediation works on its pits and ducts.

The telco is remediating its pits so the builder of the National Broadband Network (NBN) can roll out its fibre-optic cable network.

Four contractors who have been working on the pits in Penrith are undergoing medical tests for asbestos exposure.

Unions are demanding work on the NBN rollout cease until Telstra and NBN Co meet demands on workplace safety.

Communications Electrical Plumbing Union official Dave Mier said his union wants a "fair dinkum" audit before any further work is done.

"We don't want any work to progress on the network unless the people doing the work are suitably qualified," he told ABC radio.

Mier said the process of assessing the pits in Tasmania has been an "absolute joke".

"There have been no audits at all."

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon renewed his call for an investigation by the auditor general.

"When you have people who are virtually refugees from their own homes, having to move out because of this fiasco, then you know there has been a systemic failure of governance and of risk management."

Government backbencher MP Richard Marles said Labor had a good record on dealing with asbestos issues.

"We have got runs on board," he told Sky News. "If you look at the Howard government's record, there is nothing on the board."

Liberal frontbencher Jamie Briggs said it was sad Labor was playing politics on asbestos.

"It just shows the chaos and dysfunction in this place with a government in a desperate desire to find a scare campaign," he said.

NBN plans will unearth more asbestos

The federal opposition's communications spokesman said the company behind Australia's NBN will next year double its contracted workforce, and potentially unearth hazardous asbestos at many more sites.

Malcolm Turnbull warned on Tuesday that the amount of asbestos disturbed by NBN Co construction work on Telstra-managed telecommunications pits and ducts would rise under the government-owned builder's plans for 2014.

Turnbull also accused the Labor government of stirring up "needless anxiety" over concerns that NBN work so far may have exposed people in Western Sydney, Ballarat, Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania, and Queensland to the asbestos fibres that cause mesothelioma.

He said that NBN Co plans to double its contractor workforce to 15,000 next year.

"At the same time as they're going to be heavily audited over asbestos, at the same time several of the contractors have called a stop-work [meeting] over asbestos, they're going to double the size of their contractor workforce and seek to make them 10 times as productive," he told the ABC.

"This is a very big, complex project with much more disturbance."

He also accused Workplace Minister Bill Shorten of "trying to turn this into a national panic".

"In most cases, as long as it's not interfered with, as long as it's not broken up ... then there isn't a health risk," Turnbull said.

On Monday, the government announced an independent task force to monitor work by Telstra to prevent asbestos exposure, including training and supervision of contractors.

Topics: Telstra, Government AU, NBN

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  • "Nor is there any legitimate accusation that NBN Co is somehow responsible for the existence or handling of the asbestos. The suggestion is nothing more than politicking: NBN Co and legal asbestos have never co-existed in Australia. Moreover, NBN Co will never own the pits and ducts: its arrangement is to rent them.

    The question of governmental responsibility is more nuanced."


    So not only can Telstra take the credit for holding back broadband speeds in Australia they now also take the crown for asbestos exposure. Exposing thousands of Australians to asbestos just to get an $11 billion paycheck from the government. Money for shareholders much more important than Australians health. Special mention to the Howard government who allowed it to happen;-)
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • HC

      Our friend (ahem) is unable and not man enough to admit to anything he has embarrassingly said and is now having to resort to (or is just not educated enough) to conduct adult debate...

      Just another to the list of politically/greed motivated who's grubby motives have been found out...
      • addendum

        resort to "childishness"
      • Well RS I'm not sure what else to expect from these types. When their worn out political arguments fail so spectacularly where else can they run? You watch what happens if the coaltion clowns get in. Apologist mode will be cranked up to the max. This Telstra asbestos episode is a clear indication of things to come.
        Hubert Cumberdale
        • I'd go as far as to say HC...

          The major antagonists will simply disappear... having their electoral and selfish/greed mission accomplished...

          Because let's face it, they are interested in anything else...so!

          • Maybe you are right RS. Many will of course disappear but there are others that are way more dedicated to the cause. Those that cant simply disappear, the only option for them is the apologist route laden with predictable excuses. They will come thick and fast too.
            Hubert Cumberdale
  • More NBNCo bad news

    "Construction of the wireless section of the national broadband network is running so far behind schedule that less than half the planned homes and offices will be connected by its June 30 target."

    The billions wasted. Heads must roll; the earlier its killed the better.
    Richard Flude
    • Must I...

      ...explain the protocol of "topic based commenting to you AGAIN Richard"?

      Which part of comment in relation to the topic is beyond you? I know such forums didn't exist in the 50's we will soon be re-entering post Sept 14 ;) but please at least try to "educate yourself (the circle is now complete)".

      This article is about the asbestos problem... remember, the one you said for days was all NBNCo problem and then you later (as HC rightly pointed out) did a nice 180 twist and said, no one denies it's Telstra's responsibility :/

      So before you claim I'm hiding or whatever lame BS you will conjure, I'm sure you will have an article about the wireless roll out soon enough, to whinge and whine about (and of course ignore any possible reasons) - such as many of these...


      Anyway, you have a question still unanswered (under: "Did you say" on page 2) here...


      I expect you to rudely ignore, but if you manage to grow some, remember with your credibility at zero you can at least regain some of your also lost honesty... get to it, tiger.

      Thank you for again participating in my experiment Richard.
      • perhaps to be

        consistent if we are to criticise Richard Flude on the matter topics, our friend Abel in another post has launched off into a global warming or cooling theme.
        Blank Look
        • Hypocrisy and ignorance

          Their defining characteristics.
          Richard Flude
        • So if I jump off a bridge

          You will too?

          Yes it is a rather poor way to counter an argument. However it doesn't change the fact his rant didn't have anything to do with the article.
        • Perhaps...

          But there you go, it proves my point.

          By allowing one (the incessant perp) ignore protocols, others (even very educated posters such as Abel) will do so too...

          However, Abel has in the past always brought other topical and very interesting information to the table and as such, because he "adds" to the discussion, can IMO be excused.

          Whereas Richard brings absolutely nothing but (mostly) off topic, groundhog day FUD, to the table...
  • assuming of course that

    none of the properties in those places have any asbestos installed ( ie the back shed)
    Blank Look
    • And

      The eaves, wet areas, under the flooring, linen closets, meter boxes.

      As Richard Stated

      "The simplistic asbestos debate - and particularly the eager "NBN asbestos" run by an ignorant media - is entirely a crock, because every Australian lives in a country in which asbestos was once in everything bar its breakfast cereals (only because James Hardie and CSR combined couldn't work out how to render the stuff edible).

      There is no place in Australia without asbestos around somewhere: no suburb where houses aren't made of fibro, or which didn't have asbestos insulation pumped into their ceilings under pressure; no big civil works that didn't use it somewhere; no school science labs that didn't use asbestos to protect the kiddies' flasks atop the bunsen burners, and so on."
      Abel Adamski
    • Sheds and garages

      They are the worry, large exposed aged unsealed areas with tools etc rubbing against them, Tool racks mounted on them, the whole workshop storage thing.
      With the exception of the roof insulation, most other areas are covered, sealed or painted at least on one side
      Abel Adamski
      • Indeed Abel...

        But these peo[le set their own rules which don't apply to anywhere else in reality :/

        * Like copper isn't obsolete even though fibre (not copper) is now rolled out...
        * We are being forced onto FttP against our will - but we weren't forced onto copper or asphalt roads.
        * Asbestos in people's homes is more dangerous to home owners from NBN work than it is from other Tradies, such as builders, roofers etc...

        *shakes head*
      • I wonder how many of these concerned citizens

        smoke, speed while driving, eat junk food etc etc. The list goes on as to things you are more likely to die from. Do people realise that mercury and many other metals in electronics are also toxic to humans? But hey lets spread the fear just so some greedy people can get into power in this country.
        Justin Watson
        • Another one

          Best 100 days ever.
          Richard Flude
          • Just trolling


            I get it now. You never did bieve your own arguments. You were just trolling.


            Good one ;)
          • Gotta stop doing this on my phone

            Meant never did believe your own arguments