The Australian National University (ANU) has released the findings of its PFAS Health Study which has been taking place since 2016.
Disappointingly, the ANU report doesn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know and does little to relieve the anxieties of the residents of Katherine. The inconclusive findings will no doubt leave Katherine residents feeling frustrated and once again in the dark.
The most definitive finding is the psychological impact and distress that residents in PFAS-affected towns like Katherine are feeling.
This correlates with evidence given to the PFAS sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT), of which I am a member.
The Committee is consistently hearing from residents in PFAS-affected areas that communication from the Commonwealth Government and the Department of Defence is poor, people feel like they are being kept in the dark and that not enough progress is being made.
The people of Katherine deserve answers. This is dragging on too long.
It is time the Morrison Government acted to ensure these issues are fixed and to improve its communication with residents of areas affected by PFAS. Stop kicking the can down the road.
My own questions to the Department of Defence about the establishment of a second water treatment plant for Katherine was met with unsatisfactory responses.
And the Northern Territory Government has expressed difficulties in accessing Commonwealth land to conduct investigative work on contaminated sites.
I was deputy Chair of the last PFAS Inquiry into the management of PFAS Contamination in and Around Defence bases, which released significant recommendations in 2018 supported by the Federal Government.
It is demoralising for the same witnesses to again have to come forward and repeat the same concerns they raised with us in the last term of parliament.
I look forward to further unpacking these findings when the ANU giving evidence to the PFAS Sub-committee of the JSCFADT next week, including finding out how this information will be communicated with affected residents.
FRIDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2021