When the Red Cross left the premises in 2013, site contamination reports told the government of significant asbestos, lead, and pesticide risks. In March 2014, the then Veterans Affairs minister told the Finance minister that the site should be remediated to remove the contamination.
But his department did not have capacity to fund the remediation. Instead of providing the funding, the then Finance minister responded that the site should not be remediated until the government decided on its future. Seemingly oblivious to the zoning, he wanted the site to be sold for residential or commercial development.
So instead of remediating the site, the government put up fences and signs. They're still there. In February 2015, Asbestos Audits Queensland said the roof was in an advanced state of deterioration after recent hailstorms and should be removed and replaced.
This advice appears to have been completely ignored. In March 2015, the government claimed they were working towards remediation "as quickly as possible." The following month, though, they were "unable to indicate," quote, how long it would take. In 2017, three years after the government had decided to go ahead and sell the site on the open market without remediating
it first, they changed their mind. Instead, they would make a private sale to a preferred purchaser. In August 2017, the government again said they had not started remediating. In 2019, there was a new asbestos audit. Five years had passed since the last one, even though it had recommended annual audits.
The report said, quote, "The two buildings have been left to deteriorate since our last inspection in 2015 and asbestos contamination from the roof cladding has spread across the site and built up in various areas. ... It is no longer a matter of simply sealing the roof cladding.
The entire site requires remediation and the roof cladding removed, including cleaning of old support beams, ceiling and roof spaces, etc. and a cleanup removal of the top layer of soil grounds of the site carried out. And now, the newly-released documents show remediation has still not started.
Meanwhile, the government's proposal for the site has been deemed a controlled action by the environment minister, which commences an assessment and approval process that will take significant time. I have written to the Veterans Affairs minister three times since the documents were released in August.
I'm still waiting for a response. My community deserves an explanation, and we deserve to know what the Morrison government intends to do to remedy its long running neglect of this historical site. It's an absolute disgrace, Deputy Speaker. And it needs to be fixed, and the government needs to get its act together.
It's been eight years and they've been dithering on it and putting people at risk and wasting a crucial piece of community infrastructure.
Learn more about this issue in the Campaigns & Issues section of my website.