Media Release: Friday November 20, 2013
Asbestos victims slam James Hardie over slashed compensation funding
Asbestos victims are outraged following the revelation that James Hardie has almost halved its contributions to its compensation fund, despite increasing cash flow and profit.
Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson said the move was a devastating blow for asbestos victims and a sign that once again James Hardie was placing profits over human lives.
“This is simply morally bankrupt,” Mr Robson said.
“The James Hardie company only exists because of the profits made from asbestos products – products they knew would kill.”
Figures released in James Hardie’s interim profit announcement revealed contributions to the Asbestos Injury Compensation Fund (AICF) fell to $US62.8 million this financial year, down from $US113 million the year before.
“That is a massive reduction of 44 per cent, which not only risks leaving asbestos victims high and dry, but will force taxpayers to shoulder the burden,” Mr Robson said.
“The funding cuts came despite a rise in interim profit from $US156.1 million to $US190 million, and operating cash flow increasing by 160 per cent.
“James Hardie spent decades knowingly selling these deadly products.
“To this day, nearly one third of Australian homes contain asbestos — leading to a whole new generation of Australians at risk from asbestos related disease in the years to come.”
Mr Robson said the funding reduction followed an urgent intervention by the New South Wales Government earlier this year to extend further credit to the AICF, which was facing an $183 million shortfall by 2017 and had proposed moving to an instalment scheme to cover the gap.
“Australians were outraged by the way this company behaved 10 years ago when it tried to leave Australian without compensating victims,” he said.
“James Hardie seem to be trying to shirk their responsibilities once again, showing continued contempt to the thousands of people killed by their unsafe product.
“It is time for James Hardie to stop playing games and to genuinely commit to looking after the innocent victims of their asbestos products.”
For media comment please call ADFA President Barry Robson on 0407 235 685