NSW Labor has slammed the Berejiklian Government for buying new ferries for Sydney Harbour that were made in Indonesia and are riddled with asbestos.
Asbestos was discovered in gaskets and pipework in three of the four new Rivercat ferries being tested and commissioned on Newcastle Harbour.
NSW Labor will refer the potentially illegal importation of asbestos-containing material to the Australian Border Force.
“The NSW Government may have illegally imported asbestos in new ferries they had built in an overseas shipyard,” NSW Labor’s Deputy Leader Yasmin Catley said.
Last year, Transport for New South Wales commissioned 10 new Rivercat ferries to be built in Indonesia and three new Emerald-class ferries to be built in China.
“This is exactly why we should have built these ferries in Australia to Australian standards. We need a thorough investigation. All four vessels must be inspected and we need complete transparency from Andrew Constance, the Transport Minister,” Ms Catley said.
The illegal importation of asbestos has been prohibited since December 2003 and carries a penalty of up to $1.1 million.
“There is no excuse for any manufacturer to be using asbestos. The NSW Government should have known better than to trust an overseas shipyard to build these properly. The only way we can have confidence these vessels meet Australian standards is for them to be built in Australia,” Ms Catley said.
Labor is calling on the NSW Government and Transport for NSW to release the safety report which details the asbestos discovery and commission an independent assessment of each of the four ferries that have so far been delivered from Indonesia.
“Andrew Constance has once again learned the hard way that cheapness is not value for money. Australians must be protected from potentially deadly asbestos fibres and a maritime worker shouldn’t have to pay for the Minister’s short-sightedness with their life,” Ms Catley said.