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Council set to improve asbestos management

Mayor Mark Greenhill

Blue Mountains City Council resolved at an extraordinary meeting last night to accept a Performance Improvement Order issued by the Minister for Local Government, Gabrielle Upton MP, in relation to concerns about asbestos management.

The notice to issue a Performance Improvement Order comes after the Minister’s announcement on Friday, December 22 to NOT suspend the elected Councillors after consideration of the Council’s submission.

“We thank the Minister for her consideration of our submission and for her decision to not proceed with suspending the elected Councillors,” Mayor Mark Greenhill said.

“The Minister’s decision to issue a Performance Improvement Order recognises that Councils are responsible for driving their improvement and are generally best placed to do so”.

A Performance Improvement Order requires the Council to take certain actions in relation to the management of asbestos and compliance with statutory obligations.

“This approach is considered to be a more targeted and effective response to the Minister’s concerns, recognising the seriousness of asbestos management and reflects the Council’s intention to place the safety of its staff and community at the centre of its operations and organisational culture,” Cr Greenhill said.

The Mayor said that the Council recognised that it had weaknesses in dealing with asbestos and needed to improve.

“We then took immediate action to improve Council’s safety systems and procedures over the last nine months”, he said.

“The requirements of the Performance Improvement Order will assist the Council to further strengthen its asbestos management.

“We have responded to every requirement of the NSW Government. We have followed every instruction of SafeWork NSW. We have complied with every Improvement Notice issued. We have initiated an independent investigation into Council’s management of asbestos. We have allocated significant funding to asbestos response and remediation. We have commissioned some of the top experts in NSW in asbestos assessment and remediation to help Council improve our response. We have established a permanent asbestos response team. We are rolling out the Asbestos Management Plan and conducting extensive staff training.

“I am confident that we have taken control of this issue to the satisfaction of the Minister, the government regulators, Council staff and the community”, said the Mayor. “Our response to the Minister sets out a responsible and realistic approach to improving our asbestos management.

“There is nothing more important than ensuring the safety of our workforce and our community.

“There is no doubt that Council, like all councils in NSW, has a significant challenge in managing asbestos in our City. In accepting the Minister’s Performance Improvement Order the Council reaffirms its commitment to managing asbestos as an absolute priority.”