Second cancer cluster hearing to be held on the Bellarine

July 30, 2020 BY

A SECOND hearing on a potential cancer cluster on the Bellarine will be held locally, but the date is yet to be confirmed.

Some locals have voiced fears the cancer cases were specifically linked with City of Greater Geelong’s mosquito spraying program from the early 1980s onwards.

The Senate referred an inquiry on the possible cluster – which had bipartisan support ahead of the 2019 federal election – to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee in October 2019.

The committee held their first hearing in Canberra on May 1, with submitters attending via teleconference.

The inquiry’s extension means another hearing will be required, and will be a “public, face-to-face hearing on the Bellarine Peninsula” according to the committee’s website, but will only be held “at a time when it is safe to do so”.

“The focus of this second public hearing will be to receive evidence from individuals and community organisations.

“As evidence from this second public hearing will be a vital part of the inquiry, the committee will not report to the Senate until it has held this second public hearing and considered the evidence received.”

At the May 1 hearing, the Department of Health and Human Services stated an epidemiological analysis of Victorian Cancer Registry data found “no material evidence of excess cancer rates in residents of the Barwon Heads area over the period 2001-2016.

However, this conclusion was met with strong backlash from various parties.

Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson spoke at the hearing and claimed there were “major shortfalls in the Victorian Government’s analysis of a possible cancer cluster”.

It was eventually agreed the study would be extended to cover the period 1985-2001.

Corangamite federal member Libby Coker said she commended “any further reasonable review or investigation that helps clarify or elaborate any aspect of the matters” in the investigation.

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