Premier O'Farrell and senior ministers to appear before Orica leak inquiry


Premier Barry O'Farrell and at least four Government Ministers will be called before a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Orica chemical leak to explain why they withheld vital information from the residents of Stockton for 54 hours.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said the Parliamentary Inquiry will also hold public hearings in Stockton and Sydney next month.

"It's time for Barry O'Farrell and his Ministers to explain why it took them 54 hours to inform the community of Stockton about a potentially hazardous toxic chemical leak from the Orica Plant," said Mr Robertson.

"The Premier must guarantee today that he will not stand in the way of any Minister or government official appearing before the inquiry.

"The cover up must end now.

"For two months, Barry O'Farrell and his Ministers have been refusing to answer questions and dodging scrutiny over their mishandling of the Orica leak.

"The Parliamentary Committee members have now confirmed that the Premier, Minister for Environment Robyn Parker, Minister for Health Jillian Skinner and Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce are all on the witness list.

"Every one of these Ministers received information about the Orica leak and failed to pass that information onto the public.

"Robyn Parker must explain why she allowed children to play outdoors – when she knew they were potentially being exposed to harmful levels of hexavalent chromium.

"Jillian Skinner must explain why she felt it was important to call the local MP for Newcastle Tim Owens – but not inform local residents.

"Greg Pearce must explain why he avoided questions for days in Parliament about when he was first notified of the Orica leak."

The public can make submissions to the Inquiry until November 4th, and this will be followed by public hearings.

"The people of Stockton will finally get the chance to have their say at public hearings to be held on November 14 and 17 in Stockton and Sydney.

"I'd encourage members of the public affected by the Orica chemical leak to attend those hearings and have their say," said Mr Robertson.