7 no 3, 1999
A Mother's Defence
By Kim Creighton,
Who gave you the right to come to my home?
"Yes Minister" - Toxics Service Funding
By Elizabeth O'Brien, National Coordinator, The LEAD Group Inc.
Environment Minister, Tim Hartley: Herbert, what do you think about this proposal to set up a Toxics Information and Referral Service of Australia [TIRSA]?
Department Head, Herbert Ham: I haven't read it but I know The LEAD Group won't stop badgering us until there's no more toxics being emitted - it's preposterous! My Department has toxics in hand - we're setting up a web-site. People can get their information from that - when it's ready.
Tim: Gerard, what do you think?
Ministerial Adviser Gerard: Well, along with climate change and biodiversity, toxics are what people are concerned about Minister. Some people even say they're inter-related. People do like to be informed and to have their personal questions answered. The LEAD Group does have a proven track record at answering curly questions for us - even answering our own questions on lead. They seem to have the systems and the network to expand to other toxics. TIRSA could be just the thing to announce around those high air pollution days we're expecting in the summer. A good thing to mention to those rural people who keep on about the wood smoke and garbage incineration too.
Herbert: Did you hear me Minister? WE'VE GOT TOXICS IN HAND.
Tim: Yes, well if you mean anything like the National Pollutant Inventory Herbert - I have every reason to be concerned. After 10 years of promises we're still not going to have anything up on that website that's worth reading.
Herbert: Yes, well, there were some delays on that Minister but you can't expect busy industry people to just be able to produce an industry handbook on the reporting requirements - it takes time Minister. They have their factories, mines and smelters to run. It's only been two years.
Tim: I guess we should count our blessings that most of the people in those industrial towns don't vote for us anyway. But what about the cities, Herbert? We've got to win the hearts and minds of the young people just buying their first house and trying to work out if they can survive with a mortgage and without a car if the wife gets pregnant and takes leave.
Gerard: They're the ones who want to know where to buy a house in which it will be safe to breathe the air, and how to renovate safely, and how to reduce indoor air pollution - it's lucky we're not responsible for public transport Minister - it's abysmal.
Tim: Perhaps we should be responsible...
Herbert: [RAPIDLY CHANGING THE SUBJECT] About this Proposal from the smelter in South Australia - they just want a couple of hundred thousand extra to what we already gave them to improve the emissions to the sea as part of our Clean Seas Grants.
Tim: Shouldn't they be controlling emissions to the ocean anyway, with their own money? They make enough profits.
Herbert: That may be so Minister but we can't be seen to be always taking from industry and never giving anything back.
Tim: Don't be so absurd Herbert, it's the miners and smelters who take everything from this land and sell it off overseas, leaving us with the mess to clean up. I'd much rather give this money to TIRSA for all the people they'll help.
Herbert: It's a bit late for that Minister, you've already signed away all the Clean Seas money and it will take all of the Clean Air $5 million to pay for the research we have to do in the next 3 years to put on the website.
Tim: So you admit it - the people will have no source of information for 3 years?
Herbert: Oh no Minister - we'll open the web-site in a month - its purpose will be to flag the various answers we'll get from the research, over time.
Gerard: You might be interested to know Minister that The LEAD Group has started to work with industry on this ceiling dust issue. If we don't keep them happy, who knows? They might start convincing the environment groups in other major cities that the Federal Government should pay for all the ceiling dust to be removed in the houses around the airports like we paid that extra $12 million for it in Sydney. Perhaps if we give them the money to run a telephone advisory service, they'll be so busy with calls they won't have time to lobby other groups.
Tim: So, all in all, we should fund the Toxics Information and Referral Service then?
Gerard: YES MINISTER!
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Updated 09 October 2011