The lower house of the South Australian parliament has been closed following the discovery of asbestos.
According to an Australian Associated Press report, the South Australian House of Assembly has been closed indefinitely to allow testing to be conducted and a plan to remove the deadly material to be worked out.
Asbestos has been found in paint on an 1880s canvas awning and in dust in the roof space.
House of Assembly clerk Malcolm Lehman says the risk to parliamentarians is believed to be low but adds that the chamber will remain closed as a precautionary measure until plans to remove the material are in place.
Opposition leader Isobel Redmond says that while she herself did not feel any risk in working in Parliament, it was important that the state’s leaders set the example by taking appropriate precautions.
“We can’t impose compliance obligations on everyone else and not expect to have to deal with it in the same way ourselves,” she says.
The closure of the lower house is likely to cause logistical problems next week when both houses are scheduled to sit for two days.
Redmond, who suggests putting the House of Assembly into the Legislative Council and the smaller number of legislative councillors into the Balcony Room, says that with some juggling, both houses should be able to be accommodated within the building.
The lower house of the state’s parliament has 47 MPs while the upper house has only 22.
Hiring a public venue would not be ideal, Redmond says, as the money could be better spent elsewhere.