THE Liberal MP who chaired an inquiry into toxic firefighting foam has been removed from his position after controversially reporting findings in support of residents, at odds with the Morrison government.
In an emotional speech to parliament in December, Queensland MP Andrew Laming described the stories of people whose lives have been blighted by PFAS contamination, including Williamtown red zone residents, as "graphic" and "horrifying".
In a shock departure from the Coalition's policies on PFAS contamination, he called on the federal government to compensate people whose property values have been devastated by the contamination.
The Newcastle Herald confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Mr Laming was not re-appointed to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade that held the inquiry and he is no longer chair of its PFAS sub-committee.
His office declined to answer questions about the government's inaction on the PFAS inquiry findings and Mr Laming's removal from the committee, instead forwarding them to the ministers for environment and defence.
The inquiry - conducted by eight Labor, three Liberal and one Greens MP - was formed to examine the Morrison government's response to contamination around Defence land.
Coalition Against PFAS president Lindsay Clout said it was "astounding" that Mr Laming, considered by residents as the "solution" to their problem, had been sidelined.
"He listened to us, recogonised and acknolwedged the problem," he said. "Now he's been removed. What other conclusion can we draw besides that he's been silenced on the issue because the government doesn't like what he had to say."
Mr Laming was recruited to chair the inquiry because he is a medical doctor. The inquiry's recommendations stopped short of calling for compensation for health effects from PFAS exposure, but called on authorities to "acknowledge the potential links to certain medical conditions".
In the face of criticism from leading Australian doctors, the government has denied a link between PFAS exposure and health effects.
"We would sincerely hope that in having the conviction to speak out for communities impacted by PFAS contamination, Mr Laming has not been subject to political pay back," Mr Clout said.
"The only tangible development since the report was released in December 2018 is Defence Department officials confirming they have set aside more than $50 million in legal fees to take on communities who are now forced to go to court to fight against the contamination."
On Monday the Senate formally called on the federal government to respond to a PFAS parliamentary inquiry.
Residents across Australia joined forces this week to make an impassioned plea to the federal government to stop ignoring the findings of its own inquiry.
In December, Mr Laming told parliament no family should be trapped on contaminated land. "Justice delayed is justice denied," he said.
But nothing happened.
In a joint letter to Mr Laming on Tuesday morning, residents from Williamtown, Oakley, in Queensland, and Katherine, in the Northern Territory, called for immediate action to address the contamination issue.
Residents urged Mr Laming to tell the government it can no longer turn its back on thousands of Australians "whose situation becomes more desperate by the day".
"What is most chilling, is that this inaction appears to be more by design than disinterest," the letter reads.
"A war of attrition has costs that go beyond monetary. Time and again people have heard promises made and no solution delivered... The downward mental, physical and emotional spiral we are seeing from many within our communities is now reaching a critical point."
Mr Laming was not reappointed to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade - that held the PFAS inquiry - following the election.
It is unclear who is now chairing the committee's PFAS sub-committee.
Coalition Against PFAS president Lindsay Clout said the government could not continue to ignore the inquiry findings that detailed the emotional, physical and financial impact on residents.
"If it was a corporation or business liable for this toxic contamination, and not the Defence Department, does anyone seriously think the federal government would be seeking to protect them?" he said.
"The mental strain of being trapped on property where you land has been polluted, where your health is at risk and where the financial strain of not being able to sell up or get out, is now becoming close to unbearable for some.
"The irony of a recently elected Prime Minister consistently attacking other political parties that don't take a unified stance on matters of "national importance" is not lost on us.
"Every state in Australia has now identified sites with significant PFAS contamination, every politician who has visited those sites has promised action."