ACTU Secretary Greg Combet today called on James Hardie to finalise the multi-billion dollar compensation deal for victims of the companys asbestos products within coming days or face a renewed union, government and community campaign.

Last Christmas we concluded a Heads of Agreement identifying how the compensation arrangements would operate. Following the conclusion of that deal the negotiation of the detailed, legally enforceable documentation began, said Mr Combet.

These negotiations have been conducted by the NSW Government and James Hardie, with regular reporting to the ACTU and Bernie Banton on behalf of asbestos victims groups.

Almost 12 months later the legal documentation has not been finalised. Our patience is running out, and time is up, said Mr Combet.

Mr Combet said that if the legal documentation was not finished in coming days he would urge the NSW Government to introduce legislation designed to make James Hardie pay-up into the NSW Parliament before it concludes its sittings for 2005.

The NSW Parliament finishes its sittings for this year in the next couple of weeks. If the deal with James Hardie is not done there will be no alternative but for the NSW Government to bring in legislation hostile to the company legislation designed to make it pay-up, said Mr Combet.

There is no doubt that a legally enforceable deal can be done in time but to do so will require James Hardie and its Board to stop mucking around and to give its lawyers and investment advisors clear instructions to cut the deal, said Mr Combet.

Asbestos victim group representative Mr Bernie Banton will speak tomorrow at a rally in Sydney as part of asbestos awareness week.


Greg Combet will hold a media conference
2pm, Sunday 20 November
St Kilda Botanical Gardens
Corner Dickens and Tennyson Streets
Elwood (Melbourne)