Labor will call on powers never used before to bring about a full independent inquiry into the former Victorian Lands Department, if elected.
An investigation by The Courier published last week revealed spray hands with the former Lands Department, now DEPI, were exposed to now-banned chemicals 245T and 24D daily - a combination of which make up Agent Orange.
Workers from across the Ballarat and wider Goldfields region told of a range of health effects they attribute to their work spraying weeds with little protection.
- Former government workers make startling new claims of using dangerous chemicals without protection for decades.
- Former union national safety director says workers' concerns were ignored for decades.
- Victorian government launch immediate internal review of historical Lands Department operations.
- Bill Shorten calls for broader inquiry into toxic chemical use.
- Daughter wants answers over father's death.
- Workers rush to confirm they will give evidence if inquiry held.
The Victorian government announced last week it would hold an internal review within DEPI into historic work practices of the Lands Department.
But workers, unions and the Opposition say the review isn't enough.
Opposition spokeswoman Lisa Neville said the government's response has been "inadequate".
She said Labor would hold a full independent inquiry and invite former workers to give evidence and tell their stories.
"Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 there are existing powers for the conduct of an inquiry into serious public health matters, which we intend to enact for the first time," she said.
"This inquiry will allow former workers and their representatives to give evidence, have their voice heard and for a report to be published."
But Environment and Climate Change Minister Ryan Smith said the government would not "pre-empt" the findings of its internal review.
"The examination undertaken by DEPI will inform the process and next steps," he said.
"These reports relate to activities from several decades ago. Current DEPI and Parks Victoria staff, and the community, should be reassured that current practices and procedures used to control pest plants and animals are in line with best occupational health and safety practice."
Since the Lands Department's toxic legacy was exposed, The Courier has received information from former spray hands from across Victoria.
Former spray hand Les Fitzpatrick from Meeniyan in Gippsland, said there should be compensation made available for workers who suffered.
He said an independent inquiry was crucial to uncovering the extent of the issue.
"It has to be brought out in the open and people need to see what actually went on," he said.
"I had headaches all the time from the sprays ... later in life I had nerve problems (and) bowel cancer."
AWU Victorian secretary Ben Davis said union calls for such an inquiry have gone unanswered.
"We need to have an independent inquiry, these issues have been around for years, now is the time to hear (workers) stories once and for all."