The Guardian December 6, 2000


Don't put brake on asbestos ban

Following on from a ban imposed by the Maritime Union on asbestos 
imports through Australian ports, the ACTU has called on state and federal 
Industrial Relations Ministers to support a total ban on asbestos.

At a meeting organised by the Victorian Government last week, Ballarat 
break lining manufacturer Bendix Mintex, the ACTU and industry unions 
agreed to a plan of urgent action to replace asbestos with alternative 
products in Bendix's manufacturing processes.

But the deal can only go ahead if all state and federal governments also 
commit themselves to the early phase out of asbestos in manufacturing and 
agree to a ban on the import of raw asbestos and asbestos products.

It is expected that a further 10,000 Australians will die from asbestos-
related diseases in the next 20 years.

Despite this Bendix Mintex still imports 1500 tonnes of raw asbestos into 
Australia each year for use in the manufacture of brake linings.

"This agreement is about saving Australian lives and Australian jobs", said 
ACTU Secretary, Greg Combet. "All state and federal governments now have 
the responsibility to make sure they are not the ones who put the brakes on 
it."

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