The NSW Government's decision to proceed toward a statewide ban on engineered stone represents principled political leadership that could save thousands of lives, according to the CFMEU.
State Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Cotsis this week reaffirmed that the NSW Government will consider its own ban on engineered stone if no consensus is reached on a national level.
Mr Cotsis's position comes after NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey took a strong stand against the advertising campaign of the engineered stone lobby, with the Treasurer comparing their tactics to those used by asbestos producer, James Hardie. Mr Mookhey's comment preceded statements from Premier Chris Minns, in which the Premier indicated NSW would outlaw the deadly building product if a nationwide agreement cannot be reached.
"We have been campaigning to get rid of this killer stone for years, and it's heartening for construction workers to see the largest state in Australia getting behind their push," said CFMEU NSW Branch Secretary Darren Greenfield.
"We know that Caeserstone and others in the engineered stone industry have been paying lobbyists and advertisers to persuade politicians to delay a ban on engineered stone. So it was great to see the NSW Treasurer come out so strongly and call their campaign for what is: an immoral disgrace.
"We don't need engineered stone in New South Wales or anywhere else in Australia. It's fantastic to see Minister Cotsis and other senior figures in the NSW Government taking a strong and principled stand against this killer stone."
CFMEU National Secretary Zach Smith said the NSW Government's stand created much needed momentum toward a nationwide ban on engineered stone.
"Caeserstone lobbyists are working overtime to convince politicians to delay a ban on their killer product, and it's a beautiful thing to see their efforts falling flat with this NSW Labor Government," Mr Smith said.
"Engineered stone kills workers. Every day we leave it on The Australian market, we put Australian lives at risk. It's that simple.
"We don't need engineered stone. There are any number of alternative materials that are suitable for benchtops. So I'm very grateful to the Minns Government for taking such a strong and principled stand on this issue. I sincerely hope the federal government and all other states follow suit."
The CFMEU has been active on its 'Stop the Killer Stone' campaign, which aims to remove silicosis-causing engineered stone benchtops from the Australian market. A Safe Work Australia report recently confirmed that there is no safe level of silica exposure.
Georgie Moore 0421 943 293