ASBESTOS LAWS: URGENT PLEA FOR BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

28 November 2005

WITH SOUTH AUSTRALIA NOW HAVING THE WORLD’S HIGHEST PER CAPITA RATE OF MESOTHELIOMA IN THE WORLD: ASBESTOS LAWS: URGENT PLEA FOR BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

With only four Parliamentary sitting days remaining before the March 18th State Election, No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon has made an impassioned plea for bipartisan support for the Dust Diseases Bill he introduced into Parliament three weeks ago.

The Bill was introduced partly as a result of the High Court decision last December (BHP Billiton Ltd v Schultz) which has in effect prevented South Australians from accessing the fast tracking provisions of New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal. The Bill is also directed by a loophole arising out of a High Court decision handed down on the 21st of last month (CSR Limited v Eddy) where common law claims by dependents for loss of services of an asbestos victim have now been disallowed – with the High Court in fact stating it was up to legislators to fix this up.

The Bill also seeks to bring damages for pain and suffering for Australian victims in line with asbestos victims interstate – the position that stood whilst SA victims could access the New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal. Currently awards for damages in SA are up to 30% less than those interstate – despite the fact that such awards aren’t linked to the cost of living.

South Australia has recently overtaken Western Australia as having the world’s highest per capita rate of Mesothelioma – the deadly asbestos related lung cancer – in the world. On average death occurs within 9 months of diagnosis of the incurable disease.

With a latency period of between 20 to 50 years post exposure, it is expected that Mesothelioma cases and deaths aren’t due to peak in South Australia until 2020, with up to 2,000 South Australians dying from Mesothelioma, and up to double that number dying of other asbestos related diseases (including asbestosis and asbestos related lung cancer).

Mr Xenophon said:

“This is an issue that absolutely goes beyond politics and that is why I am pleading for bipartisan support to get this through in the next four days.”

“Our state now has the world’s highest per capita rate of Mesothelioma in the world – yet our system to compensate victims treats South Australians as second class citizens. As MPs we have an obligation to do the right thing by asbestos victims”.

“Melissa’s case is unfortunately not unique – there is a gigantic loophole in the law. The kids of a mum who dies in a car accident or becomes a quadriplegic can be compensated for the expenses of their mother’s services, but in a case such as this the kids won’t be able to claim after the death of their mother – it is a crazy unjust loophole and as MPs we need to fix it.”

With only four Parliamentary sitting days remaining before the March 18th State Election, No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon has made an impassioned plea for bipartisan support for the Dust Diseases Bill he introduced into Parliament three weeks ago.

 

The Bill was introduced partly as a result of the High Court decision last December (BHP Billiton Ltd v Schultz) which has in effect prevented South Australians from accessing the fast tracking provisions of New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal.  The Bill is also directed by a loophole arising out of a High Court decision handed down on the 21st of last month (CSR Limited v Eddy) where common law claims by dependents for loss of services of an asbestos victim have now been disallowed – with the High Court in fact stating it was up to legislators to fix this up.

 

The Bill also seeks to bring damages for pain and suffering for Australian victims in line with asbestos victims interstate – the position that stood whilst SA victims could access the New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal.  Currently awards for damages in SA are up to 30% less than those interstate – despite the fact that such awards aren’t linked to the cost of living.

 

South Australia has recently overtaken Western Australia as having the world’s highest per capita rate of Mesothelioma – the deadly asbestos related lung cancer – in the world.  On average death occurs within 9 months of diagnosis of the incurable disease. 

 

With a latency period of between 20 to 50 years post exposure, it is expected that Mesothelioma cases and deaths aren’t due to peak in South Australia until 2020, with up to 2,000 South Australians dying from Mesothelioma, and up to double that number dying of other asbestos related diseases (including asbestosis and asbestos related lung cancer).

 

 

 

Mr Xenophon said:

 

“This is an issue that absolutely goes beyond politics and that is why I am pleading for bipartisan support to get this through in the next four days.”

 

“Our state now has the world’s highest per capita rate of Mesothelioma in the world – yet our system to compensate victims treats South Australians as second class citizens.  As MPs we have an obligation to do the right thing by asbestos victims”.

 

“Melissa’s case is unfortunately not unique – there is a gigantic loophole in the law.  The kids of a mum who dies in a car accident or becomes a quadriplegic can be compensated for the expenses of their mother’s services, but in a case such as this the kids won’t be able to claim after the death of their mother – it is a crazy unjust loophole and as MPs we need to fix it.”

 

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