Bill Shorten.
Bill Shorten. Rob Williams

New office for asbestos management

A NEW office tasked with overseeing the management of asbestos in Australia will form part of a new national approach to limit exposure to the "silent killer", Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has revealed.

Asbestos is responsible for about 600 deaths in Australia every year.

The Office of Asbestos Safety will develop a national strategic plan to reduce the risk of exposure as recommended in a parliamentary review last month.

In his address to the second Asbestos Summit in Sydney on Tuesday (sep4), Mr Shorten said Australia had never genuinely mapped out a strategy for managing and raising awareness about Asbestos-related illnesses and deaths.

He described asbestos as an "insidious killer", and a national issue which required urgent attention.

The announcement was welcomed by union chiefs in NSW where workers continued to suffer as a result of long term asbestos exposure through companies like James Hardie.Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said the launch of a government agency directly targeting asbestos was a "breakthrough", "It will mean that in many cases we identify the threat of asbestos before it can have its deadly effect," Mr Lennon said

"Thousands of families in NSW and across the country have felt the horrible effect of this fibre and we need to stay vigilant to ensure we remove it completely.

"The new office as been given a deadline of July 1, 2013 to present its plan to Federal Parliament.

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