15 Sept 2014 – Sydney, NSW
Media release – Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA), Barry Robson, President
Asbestos victims don’t die by instalments: James Hardie shouldn’t compensate by instalments
Asbestos groups are outraged by the announcement that the James Hardie asbestos compensation fund will seek approval from the Supreme Court to pay victims by instalments following a forecast shortfall of funds within three years.
The Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia said the move was a slap in the face to victims, especially as James Hardie had recently found $500 million to pay in dividends to shareholders and given pay rises to top executives, with CEO Louis Gries now earning $11 million a year.
ADFA president Barry Robson said the reason for the funding shortfall was because the number of Australians dying from James Hardie asbestos products was still climbing, with a particular spike in the number of cases of mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by asbestos.
“Asbestos victims don’t die in instalments, they don’t lose the ability work or care for themselves in instalments, yet James Hardie wants to see them compensated in that way,” Mr Robson said.
“James Hardie spent decades knowingly selling these deadly products which to this day are still found in millions of homes and workplaces around Australia, leading to a growing number of home renovators and others in the community being exposed to asbestos fibres.
“The death toll from those products is still rising, with more Australians now dying each year from asbestos related diseases than the total number who die on the roads.
“These diseases are particularly devastating and require costly medical care.”
Mr Robson said the rise in the number of Australian’s being diagnosed with asbestos related diseases made any potential funding shortfall even more concerning.
“We will be working with the NSW Government, unions, community organisations and other supporters — just as we did ten years ago — to fight for justice for every single victim of James Hardie asbestos products,” he said.
“If James Hardie can find half a billion dollars to hand over to shareholders, and $11 million a year just for their CEO, surely they have an obligation to ensure every victim of their deadly asbestos products is properly compensated.”
For media comment please call ADFA President Barry Robson on 0407 235 685
Barry Robson, Charter GBAN Member, Australia