The Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, made a public apology to all of the workers exposed to asbestos from the state-controlled power plants. Premier Brumby told the gathering of the lower regional house at Churchill: “On behalf of the Victorian government and the community I want to say sorry and to express our regret for the pain and the suffering felt by some former power industry workers and their families when caused by asbestos exposure at the former SECV (State Electricity Commission of Victoria).” Churchill is located in the Gippsland region of eastern Victoria. Many of the state’s power production plants are located in Gippsland. Current and former workers of these plants also live near Churchill, and the victims of asbestos are so numerous that a support group was formed: the Gippsland Asbestos Related Diseases support group. Some of those from the group were present to hear Premier Brumby’s statement. The Premier added, “Some workers and families have endured intolerable suffering, including the slow and painful effects of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. “The government sincerely apologises to these workers and their families for the injuries caused by the exposure at the SECV.”
Premier Brumby noted that asbestos exposure not only affected workers but their families as well. He related the tale of a young father of two who died when he was just 44 from secondary asbestos exposure. Unbeknown to him, he was exposed to the deadly substance during his childhood when he would hug his father when he came home from work at the power station. The victim’s father carried home a carcinogen on his clothes, and years later, asbestos from the power plant would rob another family of their own father and husband. “It is unacceptable that any person,” continued the Premier, “through the course of their work, is exposed to what we now know is a deadly substance, I hope this apology goes some way to bring closure and resolution to families that are suffering from asbestos related diseases.” In the October 15th session of Parliament, the Premier hoped to be able to pass the Asbestos Diseases Compensation Bill, which would give victims the monetary recompense they so deserve.