Town Council takes their plea to the capital

BIG SMOKE: Anthony Bartlett, Warren Snowdon, Mayor Fay Miller and chief executive officer Rob Jennings spent yesterday at Parliament House. Picture: supplied.
BIG SMOKE: Anthony Bartlett, Warren Snowdon, Mayor Fay Miller and chief executive officer Rob Jennings spent yesterday at Parliament House. Picture: supplied.

A Katherine Town Council delegation visited Canberra yesterday to plea for help on the town’s PFAS contamination.

Mayor Fay Miller, chief executive officer Rob Jennings and contamination victim, Anthony Bartlett spent the day at Parliament House with high ranking cabinet members. 

The trio met with health minister Greg Hunt and defence minister Marise Payne.

While no deals were done, Mayor Fay Miller said she was happy a clear line of communication had been made. 

“There were no promises made at all, but we did not anticipate that going in,” Mayor Miller said. 

“We still have not seen the interim health report and we have asked for a copy as soon as possible, we do not want to wait until January. 

“When we asked the health minister for a copy he told us he had not even seen it which was a bit perplexing. If he hasn’t read it I don’t understand where he is getting his advice from,” she said. 

Mayor Miller said while no money had been allocated yet she thought defence would eventually cough up some money for Katherine. 

“The $5.7 million they announced on Sunday probably won’t be enough money but it is a darn good start,” Mayor Miller said. 

“It wasn’t a day where we walked out with buckets of money, but we didn’t anticipate that. We just wanted to be listened to. 

“We need sufficient counselling services in Katherine. It is difficult as it is to get quality physiologists and counselors,” she said. 

“Over the phone counselling is not the way to go. We need someone here permanently not a faceless person on the phone, someone people can trust.”

Mayor Miller said “it was a full on day”.

“We walked into Parliament House early and left at about 5.30 in the evening,” Mayor Miller said. 

“We were certainly listened to and we established some much better lines of communication. 

“We made it clear that we wanted to be included and that the community needed more information,” she said. 

“Right now it feels like the transparency is not there.”

Council wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month asking for his intervention on the ongoing chemical crisis.

Council endorsed a letter to the Prime Minister seeking his “urgent and determined leadership to more effectively deal with the impacts of PFAS to our people, environment and economy”.

While a meeting with Mr Turnbull seems unlikely, the Katherine delegation is still hoping to set up a meeting with Defence Minister Marise Payne.