Asbestos issue turns workers against each other

Threats have allegedly been made against council employees who allegedly exposed fellow workers to asbestos.

The claims were revealed in a decision handed down this month in the Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which rejected an appeal over a freedom of information case.

Mt Victoria resident Mark Lipscombe went to the tribunal after council refused to release the terms of reference for the asbestos inquiry, citing legal professional privilege.

Senior tribunal member John McAteer noted in his decision that “council submitted that they had received information that threats of harm had been made against some employees believed to be responsible for a perceived exposure of others to asbestos”.

Council had raised the issue, arguing that disclosure might expose someone to a risk of harm or serious harassment.

Mr McAteer noted that council had not produced any evidence about the threats.

He added that, if threats had already been made, that would suggest that “the critical information” about the asbestos mismanagement was already known and so release of the documents “would not further ‘disclose’ any relevant information”.

In the end, as he had already ruled the documents were covered by legal professional privilege, Mr McAteer said he did not have to rule on the “harm” argument.

Mr Lipscombe said he was disappointed that the terms of reference would not be released and he was considering a further appeal against the tribunal’s decision.