The Northern Territory government has been revealed as still owning close to 1,000 buildings that contain asbestos, with most of those schools and ‘education assets’.
The plans to remove asbestos from Territory schools has faltered, with no remediation projects undertaken since the last removal in 2019.
The Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Minister Eva Lawler has revealed that 990 buildings owned by the NT government fall under the category of containing or being presumed to contain asbestos.
“Over 100 of those were “education assets,” the department told the NT News. Only three of the 187 assets owned by the government have had asbestos removal completed.
That figure even excluded contamination on vacant crown land, government-owned residential buildings and buildings that are on government leases. The news has come after a number of government projects faced significant budget hits due to asbestos remediation.
A spokeswoman for Ms Lawler explained that “if a building containing asbestos needs to be demolished, then these costs are factored into the budget,” and noted that undisturbed asbestos is unlikely to pose a risk to the public.
CLP Education spokeswoman Jo Hersey is demanding greater action and transparency around the removal of asbestos from critical buildings.
“We’d like to see details of the Gunner Government’s asbestos removal program – and if education facilities are included, they should be a priority,” Ms Hersey said.
“The fact the last asbestos removal at a Territory school was in 2019 is telling.”