Federal Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson has welcomed news that voluntary blood testing of residents affected by the Williamtown RAAF base contamination scandal will finally get under way in November, and that a scientist has been appointed to head a long-term study.
“This news has been a long time coming, and while I have not been formally notified by Health or Defence, I was at the meeting of residents today that was told blood testing would start in November,” Ms Swanson told News Of The Area.
“We also met Professor Martyn Kirk, from the National Centre for Epidemiological Population and Health, who will head the long-term study,” Ms Swanson said.
The news comes a day after Ms Swanson sat in on a Senate debate on the Williamtown contamination, and was acknowledged by NSW Labor Senator Doug Cameron.
Ms Swanson had raised the issue in the House of Representatives during her First Speech on Monday, and in speaking on the Appropriations Bill in the Federation Chamber on Wednesday.
“I am pleased that Meryl is here to listen to this debate, because this is an issue that affects her community and an issue that she, along with the Labor Party, is extremely concerned about,” Senator Cameron told the Senate.
“As a union official, for years and years I had to deal with members of the metal workers union who were dying with mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos, after they were told it was OK,” Senator Cameron said.
“I stand beside the community in Williamtown, as does the local member, Meryl Swanson, and as does the Labor Party. We want the government to do more. The [Defence] Minister Marise Payne has only been up there once since this happened. I do not think that is good enough. I think the Minister should be in here telling us exactly what is happening and how this can be fast-tracked,” Senator Cameron said.
Ms Swanson said she was preparing questions to be asked of the Defence and Health Ministers during next week’s Senate Estimates.
“Blood tests, and this long-term study are good news. But the people in our community affected by this scandal still have a lot of questions unanswered,” Ms Swanson told News Of The Area.
“The community is understandably anxious and angry – Some just want to leave,” she said.