Ombudsman suggests new agency to oversee asbestos regulation

QUEENSLAND's Ombudsman has hinted at the failure of the state agency entrusted with the responsibility for asbestos management and has recommended an entirely new oversight body.

Ombudsman Phil Clarke's report into asbestos regulation, tabled in Parliament on Thursday, highlighted confusion over who was responsible for dealing with the toxic material.

Mr Clarke has put forward a raft of recommendations, including the establishment of a lead agency to oversee asbestos regulation and management.

This is despite the Interagency Group already existing for that purpose.

The Ombudsman's investigation found the IAG had not been entirely successful in resolving issues about which agency deals with asbestos clean-ups and removals.

"In my view, the length of time that the IAG has been operating and the concerns raised in this report justify consideration of a different approach by the Queensland Government," Mr Clarke wrote.

He found there was also misinformation in the community about the risks of asbestos.

He listed an example where a stakeholder reported receiving a call from people who found a disturbed a small amount of asbestos in their home and were worried their children would be sick and die.

"It was also noted that while the public may know asbestos is a risk, they do not understand the nature and extent of the risk," Mr Clarke stated.

There was found to be widespread confusion between councils and government agencies about whose responsibility it was to deal with asbestos.

The Ombudsman has recommended a lead agency to act as a decision-maker on such issues.



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