The Federal Government has fulfilled an election promise for Williamtown residents today.
Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite was in Newcastle today to announce there will be an independent review into the toxic per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination stemming from the Williamtown RAAF Base.
It’s been more than eight years since the chemical was first detected in the area, with residents in the red zone fighting ever since to have their homes cleaned up, or get some form of compensation.
The review will be undertaken by Mr Jim Varghese AM, and take six months to complete with a green paper put together by the end of the year.
The review won’t just focus on Williamtown, it will also look at the Army Aviation Centre in Oakey Queensland and the RAAF Base at Tindal in the Northern Territory – three of the worst impact by the PFAS contamination.
Mr Jim Varghese AM has worked in the public sector for 35 years, spent 15 years in the private sector, is the Chair of many boards and conducted a number of reviews for government to develop practical solutions to complex problems.
“The outcomes that we’re looking for is moving the community forward. id like to generate positive thinking rather than negative thinking and take opportunities rather than moving backwards,” said Mr Varghese.
With regard to future compensation for residents, Mr Varghese said nothing is off the table.
“I certainly won’t rule it out. For me this is the beginning of a very careful listening process, there’s a lot of information. I want to listen to it all very carefully, reflect, see where it’s all pointing towards and go from there.”