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PM makes 'secret' visit to Oakey contamination zone

BIG ISSUE: Senator James McGrath, Oakey resident David Jefferis, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Oakey resident Dianne Priddle examine maps of Oakey.
BIG ISSUE: Senator James McGrath, Oakey resident David Jefferis, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Oakey resident Dianne Priddle examine maps of Oakey.

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull personally visited Oakey residents affected by the groundwater contamination issue.

Residents are dealing with contamination in the area's groundwater after chemicals leaked into the ground.

The Defence Department has accepted responsibility for the issue, blaming the use of firefighting foams at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre over decades.

Mr Turnbull made the visit after an appeal from residents to Member for Groom John McVeigh and Member for Condamine Pat Weir that the Prime Minister stop in on his way to Dalby and Bell.

After late-night calls on Saturday it was agreed Mr Turnbull would visit the Berwick Stud in Oakey on Sunday at 8am.

Residents were told to keep the meeting secret and prepared a morning tea for the Prime Minister.

His security team ensured the area was secure before the man himself arrived, dressed in RM Williams attire.

Jennifer Spencer, who has been vocal about the impacts of the contamination, was among six residents greeted by the Prime Minister.

She said he was casual and friendly.

"He shook our hands and greeted us by name.

"He asked a lot of questions about the area and water flow and looked at the map, asking what the boundaries were and what the different colours meant.

"Each of us took turns in telling him our stories and how it (the contamination) has affected us."

Ms Spencer said Mr McVeigh, who also attended the meeting, summarised the latest information known about the issue.

She credited the politicians for orchestrating the meeting after earlier being disheartened, thinking they wouldn't attend.

"You can't get them when you want them, but when they want you they're there."

She praised Mr Turnbull for listening intently to the residents' stories.

"He's the Prime Minister of Australia and has a million things to deal with, but now it's in his office."

Topics:  toowoomba


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