Marise Payne to meet with Oakey residents over water

OAKEY residents fighting for answers into potential groundwater contamination have been buoyed by news the Defence Minister will visit the town and speak to the public.

But they remain in the dark as to when the long-awaited meeting will take place.

Resident Jennifer Spencer said Defence Minister Marise Payne's office had contacted her in recent days, informing her the senator would visit the Darling Downs town.

Senator Payne will be joined by Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick at the meeting.

While the finer details are yet to be released, residents have chalked it up as a win for public pressure and a step closer to getting answers about the impact of firefighting foam chemicals that leached into the soils after being used at the Oakey Aviation Centre for decades.

"Not much has been said and there's no date set but she has committed to a meeting in Oakey," Ms Spencer said.

"It's fantastic news."

Oakey has been under a cloud of concern since The Chronicle revealed more than two years ago the Department of Defence was investigating the potential impact the chemicals - perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - had on groundwater supplies.

Ms Spencer was one of hundreds who had tried to work with the government bodies to get answers to their concerns.

But after years of what they described as blame-shifting, residents stepped up their campaign to be heard, securing a victory with Senator Payne's pending visit.

Residents also welcomed a $20 million election pledge by Shadow Defence Minister Stephen Conroy to assess longer-term support requirements for residents affected by PFOA and PFOS at the Williamtown Royal Australian Air Force base near Newcastle in NSW.

The pledge was to form an inter-governmental taskforce to assess the situation on the ground in NSW, with the government to consider all recommendations made including the possibility of property buy-backs.


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