CASTLEREAGH TOXIC WASTE DEPOT
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: I ask the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Minister for Tourism, and Minister Assisting the Premier, representing the Minister for Health, a question without notice. Is it a fact that a New South Wales Department of Health report has revealed that five men and one woman living within three kilometres of the Castlereagh toxic waste depot have developed a rare brain cancer? Is it a fact that people living within three kilometres of the depot have contracted cancer at a rate of more than three times the New South Wales average? What action is the Government taking to confirm the causes or possible causes and to remove the toxic waste depot?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I would not purport to be an expert on these matters, and I will refer the question to my colleague in another place. However, I make a couple of observations. First and foremost, I give an assurance to the honourable member and, indeed, to all honourable members, that my colleague the Hon. Ron Phillips takes these matters very seriously. Whilst I do not know the details, I understand that the matter will be thoroughly investigated by the Department of Health and, no doubt, by other agencies. I am sure that my colleague will provide the details, given the honourable member's interest and concern. While these matters are, of course, very worrying and serious and must be investigated, my understanding is that there is no indication or evidence anywhere in the world that there has been a connection between brain tumours specifically, or any other ill effects, and waste dumps. Not being qualified to make any comment or judgment on that, I merely note in passing that it would be an international first if there was a direct connection, worrying though the statistics are. In relation to the dump itself, it might be very timely for us to be reminded about how the dump was located there and who authorised its expansion - it was the previous Labor Party Government.