Shame, James Hardie, shame!

Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 12:50 am
I wasn't aware that Australia even had a "statute of limitations".
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Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 02:28 am
Well, there you go, you've learned something new today!
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Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 04:22 am
I've just done a few minutes of looking. So far, I've only been able to find a reference to a statute of limitations for civil cases. And these statutes refer to the time taken to make a claim for damages. So the James Hardie case has got no chance of falling outside of any statute. The claim has been made. There are also numerous cases of successful appeals to sue for damages outside of the normal 7 year limit.
As far as criminal law, I don't believe Australia has anything resembling the US. There are numerous rape cases for example that have been prosecuted 20 years and more after the offence, which is far more than the common 5 years we hear about from the US.
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Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 05:03 am
Adrian wrote:
I accept everything you are saying Msolga. I just don't really see any reason to be angry about it now. Nobody working for JH now had anything to do with asbestos, they are just trying to get this whole thing sorted out without sending the company broke.

But they are still covering for the company! And being very well paid to do it! Evil or Very Mad

But about my "anger": It's really pretty straight forward, Adrian.
I would simply like to see workers (whatever work it is they do) be treated as though they're entitled to a bit of dignity.
Yes, it makes me very angry when they're given the run-around & have to wear all manner of legal conniptions to get what's clearly due to them. Courtesy of a company that is perfectly capable of financially compensating them. (But how do you "compensate" cutting a worker's life short, in the process of doing their job?)
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Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 05:20 am
That the original report on Hardie's workers dates back to 1935 does not help their credibility, or their concern for their workers.

Wilso - We have a common root with the American system in that they both developed from the British, but the technical details seem to be different in many ways and so to compare aspects such as the extent of the various statutes of limitations would probably not mean much.

(Mind you, that's just an opinion formed from seeing Merkan cop shows, so I could be completely wrong, and am happy to be shown the error of my ways. It is very easy to generalise and form opinions based on Hollywood-generated perceptions.)
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Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 05:29 am
lezzles wrote:
That the original report on Hardie's workers dates back to 1935 does not help their credibility, or their concern for their workers

Yes, I noted that, lezzles!
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Reply Wed 7 Feb, 2007 05:59 pm

Last Update: Thursday, February 8, 2007. 0:52am (AEDT)

Hardie shareholders agree to compensation deal

An extraordinary meeting of James Hardie shareholders in the Netherlands has voted to approve a landmark compensation deal for asbestos victims.

More than 99 per cent of voting shareholders approved the $4 billion deal, which paves the way for asbestos victims to access compensation over the next 40 years.

The deal is the culmination of years of negotiations between the company, unions, asbestos groups and the New South Wales Government.

It is intended to ensure current and future victims of James Hardie asbestos products are properly compensated, without impacting adversely on the company's profitability.

Chairman Meredith Hellicar has announced the result.

"May I say at this point that I'm extremely heartened and proud that the long-term compensation proposal has won the approval of our shareholders and is now ready for implementation," she said.

"Our shareholders have given their support to the commitment made by James Hardie's board and management almost three years ago."

Ms Hellicar says the result comes after a long, complex and often difficult process.

"As I outlined to shareholders at our Sydney and Amsterdam meetings, such an unprecedented arrangement would not be settled with a quick fix, given the fund is intended to last for 40 years and possibly longer," she said.

James Hardie could make its first payment of more than $184 million to the asbestos compensation fund before the end of the month.

Bernie Banton from the Asbestos Diseases Foundation has been the driving force behind the compensation case.

"It's an overwhelmingly majority," he said.

"The company has agreed to pay this fund and we are thrilled about that for all future victims, for all those people who are doing renovations in homes, end product users, all those future families, will have just compensation."

Mr Banton says the compensation fund is exactly what the asbestos victims wanted.

"It means justice to all those future families that maybe don't even know they have been affected by asbestos," he said.

"It gives some surety in finance to those future families."
... <cont>


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Reply Wed 7 Feb, 2007 06:10 pm
Last Update: Thursday, February 8, 2007. 10:41am (AEDT)

Asbestos victim 'thrilled' by James Hardie compensation deal

Bernie Banton says the deal will mean justice for future asbestos victims. (File photo) (ABC TV )

Asbestos Disease Foundation spokesman Bernie Banton says he is overwhelmed the $4.5 billion compensation deal from James Hardie has been approved after years of wrangling.

James Hardie shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in an extraordinary meeting held in the Netherlands in favour of the $4.5 billion fund that allows for compensation to be paid to asbestos victims over the next 40 years.

The company could now make its first payment into the "Dust Diseases Tribunal" fund by the end of the month.

Mr Banton says the deal is exactly what was wanted.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that it has gone ahead and by such a vast majority - it's incredible," he said.

Mr Banton says 273 million 'yes' votes mean a secure future.

"It means justice to all those future families that maybe don't even know they have been affected by asbestos," he said.

The Federal Government has welcomed a landmark compensation deal.

Health Minister Tony Abbott is happy with the deal.

"Obviously it appears to be good news and I think people who have been suffering deserve good news," he said.

Unions happy

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Greg Combet says deal is a great relief for asbestos victims and their families.

"It's hard to describe people's emotion about these things, because it's extremely traumatic to have a member of your family or a friend suffering from one of these awful diseases, asbestos diseases," he said.

"So to know that at least there's a bit of security there, that there's funding going to be provided by James Hardie to ensure that compensation is going to be paid, is a bit of comfort."

Mr Combet says the deal is a great breakthrough.

"This whole thing's been an awful experience," he said.

"I mean the company took its assets overseas six years ago now, and it's taken this long to try to bring the company to justice and make sure that compensation is available.

"So it's been an awfully long, difficult path, but where we've got to with this shareholder vote is something to be proud of."

Paul Bastian from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) says the settlement provides security for those suffering from asbestos-related diseases now and in the future.

"James Hardie did the right thing, it stepped up to the plate," he said.

"It recommended to its shareholders in the end - the largest corporate settlement in Australia and if not in the world, and I think they're to be commended for that."

'No guarantees'

But James Hardie chairwoman, Meredith Hellicar, cannot give any assurances the money will last.

"No one can guarantee how well the business will go over that period of time, so we'll all be doing our best, but we just can't guarantee," she said.

She rejects suggestions the company moved its headquarters to the Netherlands to avoid paying compensation to asbestos victims.

She says the offshore move was for valid tax reasons that benefited all stakeholders.

'Great outcome'

The New South Wales Government says a combined effort of activism and leadership led to securing the deal for asbestos victims.

The NSW Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, says the State Government teamed with community organisations and activists.

"The dedication of [NSW Premier] Morris Iemma and [former NSW premier] Bob Carr to make sure that a great outcome happened for these families is what's made the big difference," he said.

"The determination to bring James Hardie to account has really been a defining moment for a fair go for vulnerable families in New South Wales."

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Reply Mon 19 Feb, 2007 09:08 pm
Victims lash Hardie quitters
February 20, 2007 - 1:32PM/the AGE

The resignations of James Hardie chairwoman Meredith Hellicar and two other directors today would do much to rehabilitate the company, Australia's asbestos advocacy group says.

The three board members resigned today following last week's indication from the corporations watchdog Australian Securities and Investments Commission that it would pursue civil action against them, alleging they failed to meet basic standards of boardroom behaviour.

Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA) president Barry Robson today cautiously welcomed the resignations of Ms Hellicar and non-executive directors Michael Brown and Michael Gillfillan.

"This action, arguably more than any other of late, with the exception of the compensation agreement, will facilitate the rehabilitation of James Hardie," Mr Robson said.

"But it is critical that the company retain links at a board level with Australia.

"If foreigners replace the three board members who have resigned, then all connections to this country at a board level at James Hardie will have been severed," Mr Robson said.

"We think it's pretty important that Australians replace the three who have resigned today, given the company's legacy of death and misery in this country."

The action, in the NSW Supreme Court, relates to the period between 2001 and 2003 when James Hardie relocated to the Netherlands, leaving its asbestos liabilities behind.

The lawsuit has already led to one former director, high-profile businessman Peter Willcox, standing aside from his role as chairman of the CSIRO.

Ms Hellicar, Mr Brown and Mr Gillfillan have vowed to fight the charges when the case begins in the NSW Supreme Court on March 15. ... <cont>

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Reply Thu 22 Nov, 2007 06:25 am
A sad but timely victory.:

James Hardie settles
November 22, 2007 - 1:19PM/the AGE

The James Hardie company has agreed a settlement of terminally ill asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton's claim for damages.

Mr Banton, 61, who is suffering an asbestos related cancer, sued James Hardie subsidiary Amaca in the Dust Diseases Tribunal.

His lawyer, Jack Rush QC, has told the tribunal the parties have settled and the terms will be announced to the tribunal at 2pm today.

Mr Banton worked for Amaca as a lathe operator in the 1960s and

In 2000 he received a payout of $800,000 for an asbestos-related lung disease, but his lawyers have claimed a second damages payment for the mesothelioma.

Mr Banton has said he lived in fear of contracting mesothelioma for years after watching his older brother, Edward, die a long and painful death from the disease.

Mr Banton's wife Karen and federal Labor candidate and former union boss Greg Combet, a long-time supporter of the campaign for compensation for all asbestos victims, smiled as Mr Rush gave the news.

"Your honour, the parties have reached agreement and the matter has been settled," Mr Rush said.

Judge John O'Meally expressed his approval, saying: "I congratulate the parties on settling their differences."

Earlier today, Mr Rush told the tribunal the top management of James Hardie knew of the dangers of asbestos dust and told senior staff to ignore publicity about it.

"[There was] a disgraceful and contumelious disregard of Mr Banton's rights and Mr Banton the person," Mr Rush told the judge.

"The respiratory protections were negligible, the warnings ... in general were nil.

"All the time, we say, this company knew of the dangers of asbestos ... knew of the potential for its employees to contract mesothelioma ... and the company did nothing to warn the men about the necessity of taking precautions."

Mr Combet and Mrs Banton held hands as they left the courtroom.
James Hardie's lawyers refused to comment. ..<cont>

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Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 05:29 pm
Goodbye, Bernie & thank you.

You were the best. A dogged & heroic fighter for justice & an inspiration to so many.:

Bernie Banton dead

Asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton has died.
Photo: Bob Pearce

November 27, 2007 - 7:03A/SMH

Asbestos diseases campaigner Bernie Banton died in Sydney early this morning. He was 61.

Mr Banton died after a battle with aggressive peritoneal mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.

Phil Davey, a family friend, said Mr Banton died peacefully in his sleep about 1am (AEDT).

"He was at home and was surrounded by his family," Mr Davey said.

"Bernie's family has asked me to thank the Australian community on their behalf for their support for Bernie."

Mr Davey said the family requested privacy at this difficult time.

Mr Banton, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August, was taken to Concord Hospital on Friday, November 16. He told doctors he wanted to die at home and left hospital on Sunday afternoon.

Last Wednesday, Judge John O'Meally from the Dust Diseases Tribunal convened a bedside hearing at Concord to take Mr Banton's evidence for his compensation claim against his former employer, a former subsidiary of James Hardie.

The hearing lasted about 45 minutes.

Mr Banton, who rose to national prominence in the fight for decent compensation from James Hardie, was most recently praised by prime-minister-elect Kevin Rudd in the Labor leader's election victory speech on Saturday night.

Mr Rudd lauded Mr Banton and the unions that had supported him in his fight for compensation for asbestos disease sufferers.

"Mate, you are not going to be forgotten in this place," Mr Rudd said.

"When so many were prepared to cast you to one side, Bernie Banton, you have been a beacon and clarion call for what is decent and necessary in life and I salute you."

Family relayed the praise to Mr Banton.

Last Thursday Mr Banton won a confidential payout as compensation for his terminal mesothelioma, after he was awarded $800,000 compensation for asbestosis in 2000.

The case was settled early to finalise it in Mr Banton's lifetime, give him some closure and provide a boost to other asbestos victims in claiming similar exemplary damages.

Mr Banton's lawyer Tanya Segelov said the case was a first for the $4 billion James Hardie compensation fund.

"I think it does set a precedent in that he was the first person to come back for further damages," she said last week.

"I've many more cases on the same lines. Bernie received a lot of publicity because of who he was, but there are hundreds of people diagnosed with mesothelioma every year."

Ms Segelov described Mr Banton's second payout as "bittersweet".

"It was a relief to finish it in his [Mr Banton's] lifetime and be able to get him the compensation in his lifetime. That was a relief for everybody," she said.

Mr Banton's family and legal team had prepared for a series of late-night and weekend tribunal hearings in order to finish the matter before he died.

"My husband is dying," his wife Karen Banton told reporters outside the tribunal last week.

"I'm just numb. I couldn't even say I'm happy.

"It was never about money and it's just a relief."

Mrs Banton's eyes were filled with tears as she spoke of "my Bernie" and his struggle for justice.

"I feel very privileged to be married to Bernie Banton and very honoured to be able to care for him in what is likely to be his final days," she said.

Ms Segelov said today Mr Banton had been a stubborn and inspirational fighter.

"He was a strong and stubborn man, but he was a great believer in justice and a great fighter," she told Sky News this morning.

She said he had held on as long as he could.

"He wanted to see his compensation case finished, which happened last week; he wanted to vote in the election which he did last week and see a change of government; he waited for his sister to be by his bedside," she said.

"He tried to keep going but he became so ill in the last few weeks."

Family had been by Mr Banton's hospital bedside around the clock as his condition rapidly deteriorated.

His sister arrived from Texas in the US to be at his bedside.

Mr Banton is survived by his wife, five children and 11 grandchildren.

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