- Wittenoom Closure Bill passes Western Australian Parliament
- Bill provides for compulsory acquisition of remaining private properties
- Legislation paves way for demolition of remaining structures to begin
A dark chapter in Western Australia's history will come to an end with the passing of a bill in State Parliament that will see the permanent closure of the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom.
The Wittenoom Closure Bill allows the State Government to acquire the final properties from the remaining owners, and for all remaining infrastructure within the former townsite to be removed.
Despite the very clear health risks of travelling to the area, people have continued to visit Wittenoom, but this new legislation means the State can act to ensure there will no longer be any buildings or townsite to visit.
The Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area covers more than 46,500 hectares and includes the former townsite, Wittenoom Gorge and Joffre Floodplain. The area is classified as a contaminated site under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003.
Wittenoom was formally delisted as a town in 2007 and the State has since successfully acquired most of the private properties through voluntary acquisition.
The Bill passed the Legislative Assembly during the last Parliament but could not be progressed through the Legislative Council ahead of the 2021 State Election. On returning to office, the McGowan Government has made passing the legislation a top priority to enable the closure of the townsite to be finalised.
Wittenoom will never be safe for human habitation and is a closed site for public health reasons. More information and advice to visitors in the region is available online at https://www.dplh.wa.gov.au/wittenoom
Comments attributed to Lands Minister John Carey:
"The passing of the Wittenoom Closure Bill is a significant step in resolving this longstanding industrial tragedy that will protect public health and put an end to a dark period in our State's history.
"It has been more than 100 years since blue asbestos was first identified in the Hamersley Ranges, and more than 80 years since mining commenced in Wittenoom.
"The mining of asbestos at Wittenoom has had such a devastating and long-term impact on the lives of so many Western Australian people and families.
"With the passing of this bill, the State Government will now acquire the remaining properties in the townsite, before removing all structures that are left standing in the area.
"Despite the very clear health risks of travelling to the area, people have continued to visit the site, but this new legislation means there will be nothing left for people to visit."
Minister's office - 6552 5300