Abbott say asbestos eradication agency has not been axed

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott says a key national asbestos eradication agency "has not been axed", despite Labor feeding fears over its future.

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency was created in June last year as workers on National Broadband Network projects feared exposure to asbestos in communication pits.

It aims to help get rid of all legacy asbestos across the nation, and create a register of people exposed to asbestos fibres to create a record of such exposures.

But the National Commission of Audit last month recommended the agency be axed, with Labor capitalising on those fears on Monday.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asked Mr Abbott why the government was axing the agency, but Mr Abbott rebuffed the question, saying the agency "has not been axed".

While Mr Abbott did not clarify whether it could be abolished, he said only that Mr Shorten should "check the facts" before asking such questions.

But a recent ministerial paper by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann highlighted the agency as being misused by the previous government "for public-relations purposes".

The paper, which did not specifically outline plans to abolish the agency, has fed fears of the potential, despite the budget not listing it for abolition.



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