No champagne yet, but asbestos compo looms

By ADRIAN MILLER

amiller@dailyexaminer.com.au

BARYULGIL residents with asbestos related diseases caused by the James Hardie mine would find it easier to claim compensation after the company yesterday agreed in principle to a pay-out package, Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia (ADFA) president Barry Robson said yesterday.

But Mr Robson warned against celebrating yet, saying this had happened too many times for Hardie to be trusted this time.

"I'm not celebrating yet because they haven't signed anything," he said.

"It's only a press release saying they've come to some arrangement.

"But if you cast your mind back 15 months ago they said the same thing."

Yesterday's announcement by the company said the 'inprinciple' package, believed to be worth up to $4.7billion over 40 years, would be signed later this week after ratification by the board of directors.

Mr Robson said Hardie had applied these smokescreens before.

"We won't be breaking out the beer and prawns until that document is signed and money is going into that fund and that'll take a couple of months," he said.

But even so, Mr Robson said the announcement brought hope for the Baryulgil community.

"They're in the process of putting their case together ... and I think they are just waiting until the end result of this Hardie saga," he said.

"It'll have a big effect on them because they'll be able to chase compensation now.

"If they get this document signed this week it'll be a great victory for the Grafton community, especially the people around the Baryulgil mine."



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