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Speech: Work Health And Safety (Crystalline Silica Dust) Amendment Bill

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:33): I thank those members who have made a contribution: the Hon. Kyam Maher, the Hon. Connie Bonaros, the Hon. Heidi Girolamo and the Hon. Sarah Game. I note that that is Labor, Liberal, One Nation and Greens all agreeing that we need to take a closer look at this issue, and this issue is around manufactured—

The Hon. C. Bonaros: And SA-Best.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: And SA-Best. Sorry, I thought I said SA-Best. I am sorry. All parties represented in this council, in this chamber, are in agreement and I thank them all for their commitment to taking this issue seriously.

Manufactured stone was actually only first used in Australia in 2001, so this century. It is an imported building product made from silica aggregate and resin, and is most often used in those shiny kitchen benchtops and commercial and retail finishes. I note that evidence given to a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry heard from Dr Chris Colquhoun, the Chief Medical Officer of iCare, and he is quoted as saying 'any time you are cutting manufactured stone you have to make the assumption that if you breathe the stuff in you are going to die'.

In 2021, the report by the National Dust Disease Taskforce found that one in four workers who had been exposed had been diagnosed with silicosis. That is in less than 20 years. What happens in the next 20 years? I have to assume that, unfortunately, those numbers and that probability will rise.

It took 70 years for Australia to ban all forms of asbestos. We need to learn from that disaster and act urgently to ban artificial stone. Silicosis is already killing workers, young workers with young families, affecting people who should have had their entire lives ahead of them. I would hope that all legislators, regardless of political party, will put the lives of those workers and their families above the need for shiny kitchen benchtops and that we will act urgently to address this issue and find a solution that effectively bans this new industry—it is not an ongoing, historic industry; it is, in fact, quite a new, emerging industry—and does so swiftly to literally save lives.

I have moved contingently that this bill be withdrawn and referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation for inquiry and report, and I note that as I move that it be read a second time.

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