Bill Shorten.
Bill Shorten. Rob Williams

Politicians attacked in Question Time over asbestos issue

WORKPLACE Minister Bill Shorten has hit out at the Queensland Government over claims of asbestos mishandling at a National Broadband Network site in Mackay.

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie wrote to Mr Shorten on Monday, seeking clarification of safe work procedures for NBN Co sites.

He said there were three sites around the state where workers had mishandling asbestos-containing concrete, including the incident in Mackay.

That incident, Mr Bleijie said, had resulted in asbestos being left exposed in a main street of Mackay for as long as five days.

However Mr Shorten, who would not confirm on Tuesday he had received the letter, said the state government's regulator had not issued any enforcement or improvement notices related to the Mackay site.

He said Worksafe Queensland had investigated the site, and "the contractors involved in this work are covered by state legislation".

While Mr Shorten was responsible for the national work safe regulator Comcare, he said Comcare were only advised "after the fact" about the incidents.

The comments came after heated debate during Question Time, in which Opposition Communication spokesman Malcolm Turnbull attacked Mr Shorten over asbestos problems in other states.

Member for Dawson George Christensen also asked Mr Shorten how many people had been exposed to the asbestos in the Mackay incident.

However, Mr Shorten did not directly answer the question, instead, promising he would ask Comcare for a report, which he later reported in parliament.


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