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Govt should go into bat for sufferers

28 January 2005

Govt should go into bat for sufferers of asbestos-related diseases

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling on the Government put pressure on Australian construction firm James Hardie to pay compensation to New Zealanders suffering from asbestos-related diseases.

"It is grossly unfair that New Zealand victims seriously afflicted with asbestos diseases are not being compensated by James Hardie," Ms Kedgley, Green Health Spokesperson said.

"The Government must take a lead in the campaign to get the company to pay compensation to former New Zealand workers suffering from asbestos-related lung diseases."

The Government should also drop its High Court appeal which seeks to prevent victims of asbestos-related diseases from getting lump sum payments, Ms Kedgley said.

"It is shocking that the Government is challenging a ruling that would give some lump-sum compensation to victims of asbestos-related diseases. Why is it so mean-spirited as to challenge the right of sufferers of asbestos-related diseases to proper compensation?

"It would be hypocritical for the Government to demand compensation from James Hardie while seeking through the courts to deprive New Zealand workers from an entitlement to lump-sum payments."

Ms Kedgley said the company had a duty of care to all of its employees, whether they live in New Zealand, Australia or Indonesia.

"James Hardie must not be allowed to wash its hands of its obligations to New Zealand victims. It is shocking that workers who have developed one of the most tragic and debilitating workplace diseases are receiving only a pittance, about $65 a week, for their terrible workplace injury. By contrast, victims in Australia are getting an average of $250,000 in lump sum compensation."

ENDS

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