Labor Opposition calls on Premier to stand minister down pending inquiry

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Premier O’Farrell must stand down his Environment Minister Robyn Parker pending the outcome of the inquiry into her handling of the Stockton toxic chemical leak.

This follows reports today that the two are at loggerheads over when the Government knew about the threat to public safety in Stockton.

“The Environment Minister says she told the Premier’s office of the threat to public safety in Stockton on Tuesday – but the Premier’s office says they were not informed until Thursday,” Mr Robertson said.

“Either way, the Environment Minister has failed in her duty of care to inform residents about a major public safety risk in Stockton.

“The independent inquiry must investigate why it took the Environment Minister 54 hours to inform Stockton residents that they should not allow their children to play outside or eat home grown fruit and vegetables.”

“Stockton residents allowed their children to play outdoors, childcare centres opened their doors and families ate food that could have been contaminated while the Minister was aware of the threat,” Mr Foley said.

“Given the seriousness of the information the Minister refused to make public, the Premier must stand the Minister down pending the outcome of the independent inquiry.”

Timeline:

6.00pm, Monday 8 August - Orica ammonium nitrate facility near Stockton releases plumes of hexavalent chromium into the air.

10.30am, Tuesday 9 August - Office of Environment and Heritage notified of the leak and dispatches staff to the site to inspect and collect samples.

3.27pm, Thursday 11 August - Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker informs the public of the dangerous incident in a Ministerial Statement on the last Parliamentary sitting day for a week. Information appears on the NSW Health website telling parents not to let children play outdoors, not to eat home grown vegetables and not to drink water from rain water tanks.