Asbestos Clad Ferries

Today Abigail asked why the NSW Government had purposely ordered new ferries built overseas with asbestos for deployment in Sydney and whether they were aware of the safety risks they posed to passengers.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:35:34): My question is directed to the Leader of the Government, representing the Minister for Transport and Roads. This week it was reported that the 10 new River Class ferries purchased off the shelf from overseas were not only built using asbestos but also would pose the risk of decapitating unwitting passengers who dared to use the top deck as the ferries pass under bridges on their routes. Does the Minister stand by his assertion that they have been "purposefully designed this way" and, if so, what other transport projects has the Minister purposely designed to fail?

The Hon. DON HARWIN (Special Minister of State, and Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts) (12:36:16): The member has asked a number of questions about whether the Minister stands by certain statements that he may have made.

The PRESIDENT: The Minister will resume his seat. The Clerk will stop the clock. I could not hear what the Minister was saying so I am sure Hansard had no chance of recording what the Minister was saying. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. DON HARWIN: I have got no hope, Mr President, if you cannot—

The Hon. John Graham: Point or order: Can you ask theMinister to stop reflecting.

The PRESIDENT: I almost called the Minister to order for that reflection. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. DON HARWIN: The question asked by Ms Abigail Boydrequires a response from the Minister in the other place as to whether he stands by particular statements he has made. I am not in a position to provide that information to the House. The member will not be surprised to learn that the note that my adviser has handed up does not cover those two points. In the circumstances, it is appropriate that I refer the question to the transport Minister and ask him to provide a response to the member in a timely fashion.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:38:53): I ask a supplementary question. Does the Minister plan to name the first of those ferries Ferry McSever as it was reported on Twitter?

The PRESIDENT: Order! The member knows better than to deliberately ask a question that does not qualify as a supplementary question. If she continues to take advice from another member to do so, I will call her to order for the first time.

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