Legal action against the Department of Defence for chemical contamination of Katherine will continue.
Lawyers say the Federal Government continues to move at a snail’s pace on PFAS issues, despite the tabling of a Joint Standing Committee report yesterday.
That report again recommended the government compensate landowners who have suffered drops in property values as a result of the contamination.
Those property price falls are the subject of a class action by Shine Lawyers for Katherine residents.
“It has been nearly five years since the Commonwealth first told Australians about this contamination issue,” Shine Lawyers’ special counsel Joshua Aylward said.
“The situation has become progressively worse, with 90 contaminated Defence sites identified across the country.
“This is the second Senate inquiry into the PFAS contamination crisis, we just hope it’s not ignored for the second time.”
Mr Aylward said the government now had an opportunity to deliver on recommendations to protect the tens of thousands of affected residents who have suffered as a result of exposure to this toxic chemical.
In its response to the tabling of the committee report yesterday, the government did not discuss the compensation recommendation.
“Every delay in accountability is a delay in protecting Australians from the side-effects of this contaminant,” Mr Aylward said.
“The research into the negative side effects is widely accepted across the globe, yet our government lags behind and continues to deny the links to cancers, thyroid disease and birth defects among others.
“The families we represent have been held hostage on contaminated land.
“They cannot move house because their land value has significantly decreased as a result of the chemical leaching into the ground and into their water supply. They do not have the funds to protect their families. The senate has recommended a buy-back scheme for all landowners affected, but we have seen this recommended in 2016, with no effect.
“The Government is moving at snails-pace and for many, this delay will be too late for some.”
Meanwhile, Lingiari MP Warren Snowdon spoke in Parliament yesterday after the tabling of the Senate report.
“The report contains evidence given by members of the Katherine Community who have been affected by PFAS chemicals and attended the public hearings in Katherine to give evidence,” Mr Snowdon said.
“Those of us who have had the great fortune of working with these people and talking with them can identify and empathise with their concerns”, Mr Snowdon said, “but ultimately we—that is, the parliament and the government—have to come up with some solutions to their issues.
“I look forward to the Government’s response to the report.”
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