THE Morrison government has been accused of attempting to "starve" the Williamtown PFAS contamination debate of oxygen in the lead-up to the May Federal election.
It is now more than three years since Williamtown residents called on the Federal government to act over the Department of Defence's contamination of their land with toxic fire retardant chemicals from Williamtown RAAF Base.
Now the government's latest failure, missing the deadline for responding to a parliamentary inquiry that has called on it to compensate residents and ban the toxins, sees the issue headed for the same quagmire that has outraged residents since they learned of the decades-old contamination in September 2015.
Coalition Against PFAS (CAP) president Lindsay Clout said on Tuesday that the government was supposed to report back by March 1, but missed the deadline to avoid debate before the election.
Mr Clout said the stalling tactic employed by the government was "nothing new".
"They are trying to starve the debate of oxygen," he said. "They've been doing it all along and they are doing it now. They simply don't want to talk about it."
In a shock departure from the Coalition's policies on the contamination, chair of the committee Liberal MP Andrew Laming delivered the inquiry's landmark findings in Parliament in December calling for immediate action.
While the recommendations had the bipartisan support of all MPs sitting on the inquiry, it remains unclear whether they will be supported by the government.
In an emotional speech, Mr Laming told Parliament "no family should be trapped on contaminated land".
Mr Clout said nothing had changed since Mr Laming's speech last year.
"The government has had three months to respond to the Laming report," Mr Clout said.
"Yet there remains a defeaning silence after its own deadline for a formal response has passed.
"On releasing the report Andrew Laming said, 'Justice delayed is justice denied.' Now we're hearing it could be another six months before the government responds."
The Morrison government has denied a link between PFAS exposure and health effects, as it fends off a class action from Williamtown and other residents.
It has also refused to compensate residents who have found their property values decimated and banks knocking back loan applications in affected areas.
Mr Clout said residents were fed up with the lack of action and deserved better.
"Panic, inaction or indifference is not a plan - all sides of politics must clearly set out how they will address PFAS contamination as we enter a Federal election," he said.
The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade did not respond to the Herald's request for comment about the delay.
- courtesy Newcastle Herald
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