MONASH council could be saddled with the responsibility of maintaining an asbestos register for the city.

Under changes recommended by the Australian Government’s Asbestos Management Review, councils such as Monash will be expected to maintain a database on the asbestos found in their municipalities.

From the Weekly, August 13.

They will also be responsible for a scheme that will see asbestos content reports be undertaken before homes are sold, leased or renovated.

The report found: “Local government (or the equivalent) should be resourced for and be responsible for implementing and administering the ACR scheme, including compliance and enforcement, as this level of government is closest to on-the-ground activities and it would align with many of their existing activities.”

But the state’s peak local governance body, the Municipal Association of Victoria, hit back at the recommendations.

President Bill McArthur said councils would be slugged with a responsibility they were ill-equipped to handle. “Victorian councils don’t have any interface at point-of-sale, leasing or for many internal building renovations that occur as-of-right.

“It not only misunderstands the role of councils but also creates onerous new obligations well outside of their current areas of responsibility.

“The recommendation also fails to consider cost impacts, capacity constraints already facing many councils and how the proposal would be funded.”

But Monash mayor Stefanie Perri would not take a stance on the issue. “The federal government’s comments on the asbestos review are recommendations at this stage and, until we have a better understanding of what they are proposing, it is difficult to comment,” she said.

“However, what is clear are the greater issues surrounding storage and maintenance of asbestos data as well as the enforcement of the regulations.

“Auditors are currently registered by the EPA and they carry ultimate responsibility when dealing with this issue but we do have a minor role to play under health and building legislation when it comes to the removal of asbestos.”

Employment Minister Bill Shorten announced the establishment of the Office for Asbestos Safety last week.

The office will oversee the management of asbestos in Australia and the reduction of exposure to the deadly fibre.

As exclusively revealed by the Weekly last month, lives are being put in danger because there are no laws making it mandatory for homeowners to conduct a hazardous materials report before renovation.

The gaping hole in the legislation has led to a third wave of asbestos victims being diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Most renovated their homes in the 1980s.

A Safe Work Australia report found that in 2007 there were 660 new cases of the deadly respiratory disease mesothelioma in Australia and 551 deaths.

Breathing in asbestos fibres has since been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma with asbestos-affected individuals going decades without showing symptoms.

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