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Last updated on July 14th, 2017 at 01:38 pm
Gideon Haigh on asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton, who died early yesterday.
The fact that Hardies relocated to Holland to try and duck responsibility for their misdeeds has them up there with Bond and Skase as Great C**ts Of History.Posted by Tony.T.Teacher on 2007 11 27 at 06:21 PM • permalink
Is it a Haiku?
It’s made me cranky.
Can someone post a synopsis?Posted by Dave in Chicago on 2007 11 27 at 06:22 PM • permalink
For, or against?Posted by Don’t Bogart that Midget, Comrade! on 2007 11 27 at 06:34 PM • permalink
While I admire his tenacity, I also agree with Tony Abbott’s honesty- he wasn’t a campaigner because of his own sense of altruism, it was very much personal payback that drove him.
I will also never take a personal injury matter seriously while genetic evidence is inadmissable- why should a compny be liable for a disease that was going to nail someone anyway?
Asbestos is another in a long line of media-driven scare campaigns- only one form is particularly nasty, blue asbestos, which was mostly used as pipe lagging- in the meantime the rest of us get hosed for the collosal cost of removal of every sheet of the stuff from every building in the country, and a cheap fire-retardant product dissapears from the market.
The same sort of Sixty Minutes driven idiocy that saw Kevni elected; I still stand by my theory of human devolution.
BTW- how little do you have to do these days to warrant a state funeral?
I once rode a skateboard down Canning St* in Rockhampton when I was 15- when I pop my clogs I reckon it should be a matter of national wailing and gnashing of teeth.
*A 30%+ incline that goes for over a mile, with side streets infested with lurching council buses and white leghorns in rusty Morris Oxfords- a gauntlet that makes the valley leading to the Russian artillery at Balaclava look like the Rundle Mall.
#8 – The last state funeral in England was for Churchill. While I admit there hasn’t been a decent Pom to die since, it puts it in perspective.Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2007 11 27 at 08:34 PM • permalink
Well then what the hell good is he then?Posted by Don’t Bogart that Midget, Comrade! on 2007 11 27 at 09:33 PM • permalink
9. – Didn’t Diana and the Queen Mother receive state funerals? Or are Royalty and former Royalty different?
Bernie fought well. That company employees (ie the ones in charge) should have gone to jail for manslaughter.
Habib – It is pretty hard to use statistics to prove someone would have died from some disease anyway, let alone the specific one they are suing over. Further, gene technology is not that far advanced to say if someone WILL suffer. In any event, there is no gene which causes a predisposition to mesolythemia AFAIK. The links here between asbestosis and lung cancer are as solid as Hardie’s profits.
#7 Surely they must have tried. Otherwise, how did they manage to retain their “cruel, uncaring” title?Posted by arrowhead ripper on 2007 11 27 at 09:36 PM • permalink
#11 – Royal family have Royal Ceremonial Funerals. Diana Princess of Prescriptions had a Ceremonial Funeral.Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2007 11 27 at 09:41 PM • permalink
#12- I believe Hardies tried to settle in 2000 but the offer (about A$800K, not a bad tickle seeing as he would’ve been on sickness benefits by then and medical costs would’ve been carried by taxpayers) was knocked back- I think Tony Abbott was on the money, but you apparently tell the truth about someone who’s been accorded icon status by the meeja.
Mesothelioma & white asbestos. There’s more info on White, Brown and Blue asbestos and mesothelioma on the web.
- St. Bernard was a
dogsendgodsend to the campaign. Combet was inseparable. ACTU: more than pro bono?
No reflection on Bernie himself, but you do wonder …
Having grown up in a fibro world, it might get me too one day. But I’ve had a good run so far, and sooner or later it’s Game Over. Just a matter of what gets to you first.
It has been known for decades that one is more likely to die from a fall in the bath, than from exposure to white asbestos, but my associates still prefer that I bath daily.
#22 – interesting link, Franklin. Since many will not bother to click it, I’ll add some excerpts:
The CDC studied the number of deaths from asbestosis and mesothelioma in New Hampshire over a 20 year period from 1963 through 1983. Only 13 died from mesothelioma; 9 died from asbestosis. In sum, only about one person in New Hampshire died per year from these asbestos-related diseases. Moreover, the average age of those deaths were not much different from the average life expectancy in the United States. In fact, those with asbestosis lived longer than the average American life expectancy.
In 1998, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reported no increased risk of death from cancer because of prolonged exposure to asbestos. Based on a thorough study of mines and mills that have the world’s greatest concentration of asbestos, the researchers concluded: “The [Environmental Protection Agency] model overestimated the risk of asbestos-induced lung cancer by at least a factor of 10.”
Harvard University’s Energy and Environmental Policy Center rank asbestos as a comparative risk of premature death as follows:
Motor vehicles 1.6%
Frequent flying on airlines 0.73%
Coal mining accidents 0.44%
Indoor radon 0.4%
Asbestos in school buildings 0.001%
(cited in Access to Energy, Feb. 1990, vol. 17, no. 6)
The EPA not only exaggerated the effect of asbestos, it also ignored its benefits in effectively banning it from buildings in the 1970s.
However, smoking does cause lung cancer, and hundreds of thousands of smokers die each year from it. Had the law recognized and applied the doctrine of intervening cause, then the frenzy over asbestos may have never occurred. But the courts opened their gates to attorneys claiming that smokers contracted their lung disease from exposure to asbestos. The issue was presented to juries, beginning as early as the 1960s, and enormous verdicts began rolling in.
No government-funded scientist is willing to defend asbestos. This enables those profiting from asbestos to fan public fear to astounding levels. Just this past week, the front-page headline in my local paper was that asbestos was found in a public park. Well, asbestos occurs in nature and floats in water. What’s the big deal? An executive with an environmental group demanded that “It’s time to close this park. It’s time to clean it up.”
The direct economic cost of the 9/11 attack is estimated to be between $40 and $60 billion. That is an enormous figure, about ten times the insured value of the buildings themselves.
As large as the 9/11 costs are, however, they pale in comparison to the estimated costs of asbestos litigation. The Economist magazine recently put the cost of asbestos litigation at $200 billion. That is probably a low estimate.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly implored Congress to save the courts from having to handle asbestos lawsuits. But the usual victims of this litigation are engineering companies that lack political muscle and are no match for the political clout of the trial lawyers.
America’s top asbestos producer, Johns Manville, was forced into bankruptcy in 1982. By 1992, Lloyds of London was averaging nearing $3 billion a year in losses, due mostly to asbestos claims.
Asbestos litigation has pushed at least 60 companies into bankruptcy since 2000, including Bethlehem Steel. Judgments are often imposed with little regard for proof of wrongdoing or causation. Encouraged by porous legal standards, asbestos attorneys have filed claims for more than 1.4 million persons, against more than 1,400 companies. More than 90,000 new claims were filed just last year. Only 6% of those claimants actually suffered from an asbestos-related illness.
In 2000, the four major companies sent into bankruptcy by asbestos were Armstrong World Industries (construction products), Babcock & Wilcox (boilers), Burns and Roe (engineering and construction), and Pittsburgh Corning (glass insulation). In 2001, asbestos litigation casualties included the chemical and materials giant W.R. Grace (which did not even make asbestos), the prominent construction materials company G.A.F., the gypsum wallboard maker USG, and the auto-parts maker Federal-Mogul.
In the past eight months, Fortune 500 victims of the asbestos litigation monster have seen sudden drops in their stock prices. Hit with a Texas-sized verdict last December, Halliburton stock abruptly dropped 43 percent.
In February, a Manhattan jury awarded $53 million to the estate of a deceased auto mechanic who allegedly died from exposure to asbestos in brake linings. That decision jeopardizes the entire auto industry; full-page ads for auto mechanics with lung cancer now run in New York newspapers.
- #22 #23 thanks Franklin and blogstrop.
my eyes are opened.Posted by daddy dave on 2007 11 29 at 06:37 PM • permalink
It’s a shame that the cause was used by people wanting to advance themselves. A bit like mining disasters.