Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann

Said the agencies facing the axe are considered by the Coalition to be “window dressing”: Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

A battle is looming over the fate of the federal government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, which was earmarked for axing in the budget papers.

National asbestos support groups, lawyers and unions say the public will suffer continued deadly exposure if the agency is abolished.

An estimated 40,000 people are expected to die in a third wave of asbestos-related disease following contact with the carcinogen in their homes and workplaces.

The national commission of audit recommended this month that the only federal body addressing asbestos management and safety be abolished as a cost-saving measure.