A federal government website that was created to promote engagement with communities affected by PFAS contamination cost $55,000 to build but has attracted only 5,600 visits in a year of operation.
Only 20 inquiries have been made via the PFAS.gov.au website despite tens of thousands of residents now being affected by PFAS contamination around Australia.
The government's difficulty in achieving meaningful community engagement on the issue was highlighted in the recently released progress report of the PFAS subcommittee.
"... some respondents to this inquiry considered transparency and accountability under the national PFAS response does not appear to be a government priority," the report noted.
"The Coalition Against PFAS, for example, considered the government's dismissal of most of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade's 'broadly sensible recommendations' to reveal its lack of interest in accountability to community needs."
One of the ways the government sought to improve transparency regarding the actions it was taking on PFAS contamination was through the PFAS.gov.au website.
Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi, who obtained the performance data about the website, said the money spent on its creation should have been spent on genuine and participatory community engagement.
"So many of those impacted by PFAS contamination are still waiting for a cent of compensation from the government," she said.
"Sham consultation and sham engagement does little to assure communities that the government has their interests at heart.
"The government must commit to financial compensation for residents and property-owners impacted by the contamination, including buy-backs. Enough is enough."
The federal government described the Department of Defence's PFAS investigation and management program as "possibly the largest program of environmental investigations ever conducted in Australia".
At the time of the government's submission, the total combined size of the investigation areas was approximately 1150 square kilometres, and Defence had spent in excess of $130 million on the program.
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