22 September 2023




Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann has welcomed a review of land uses around Defence bases impacted by per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination and urged residents near RAAF Base Amberley to have their say.

The new independent review was announced on Wednesday by Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite, delivering on an Albanese Labor Government election commitment.

The review will be led by Springfield City Group Executive Director Jim Varghese AM, who is a former Director-General of the Queensland Departments of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Main Roads, Employment and Training, and Education.  

The inquiry will focus on communities around RAAF Base Williamtown (NSW), the Army Aviation Centre Oakey (QLD) and RAAF Base Tindal (NT).

However, there will be an opportunity for other communities around Defence bases impacted by PFAS contamination to make submissions to the review, including residents living around RAAF Base Amberley.

Working in consultation with Commonwealth, State/Territory and local governments, affected communities and industry, the review will explore alternative uses for impacted land and communities around Defence bases.

This includes identifying opportunities where adjacent land may be repurposed to support the Australian Defence Force to deliver on the Defence Strategic Review, while better supporting communities.

The review is expected to be finalised in early 2024.

More information on the review is available on the Department of Defence website at: https://www.defence.gov.au/about/reviews-inquiries/pfas-independent-review

Further details about public consultation, including opportunities to make submissions and public hearings, will be released shortly.

Mr Neumann said he was proud to have announced Labor’s commitment to a review of PFAS-affected properties in Opposition as the Shadow Minister for Defence Personnel and was pleased the Albanese Government was now delivering on the commitment.

“We know that Defence’s historic use of PFAS has reduced opportunities for land use around some Defence bases. Residents want solutions and the independent review will work with communities and provide those solutions,” he said.  

“I’m very pleased that Jim Varghese has been appointed to lead the review and I’m sure he will do an excellent job.

“Mr Varghese is well respected former senior public servant with extensive experience in conducting independent reviews at the Federal and State level, and as a Director of Springfield City Group, he understands the issues here in Ipswich.”

Mr Neumann noted that monitoring and remediation activities will continue at RAAF Base Amberley while the review is underway, as part of Defence’s ongoing PFAS Investigation and Management program.

“This has been a big issue in our community of Ipswich, which is home to RAAF Base Amberley. The former LNP government kicked the can down the road on this, but the Albanese Labor Government is responding.

“I know there are still community concerns in areas near the base, like Amberley, Willowbank and Leichhardt, about potential the health impacts of exposure to PFAS from consuming home-grown produce or fish caught in local waterways.

“This is why I have continued to call for free voluntary blood testing to be made available to residents in these areas and have written to the Health Minister Mark Butler to request this. 

“This review is a great opportunity for residents in my electorate to provide feedback on PFAS contamination issues around RAAF Base Amberley, so I am urging them to get involved, make a submission and have their say,” Mr Neumann said.