Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Record $3m payout for ‘third wave’ asbestos victim

A 42-year-old man has won a record $3 million payout from former asbestos manufacturer James Hardie, after he developed a rare form of mesothelioma. Adelaide man Mathew Werfel was exposed to asbestos from renovating two homes between the late 1990s and early 2000s. “Home renovators beware, because you just don't know where it is,” he told the ABC. Werfel is one of the “third wave” of victims exposed to asbestos while carrying out renovations. The first wave encompasses workers involved in mining and processing the product, while the second wave refers to people exposed to the product in homes and places of work. KMPG estimates James Hardie's liabilities at more than $1.8 billion, with uncertainty regarding future claims. University of Wollongong accounting school Associate Professor Lee Moerman said home renovation claims were at record levels. Of 700 identifiable claims for mesothelioma last financial year, she said “374 were claimed against James Hardie and 229 of those claims were for renovators”.

A bill will be introduced to the Western Australian parliament today to legalise assisted dying. Days after the first patient ended her life under Victoria’s assisted dying laws, the WA Labor Government is proposing a similar bill for debate, with both major parties to allow a conscience vote ($). Under the proposal, a person would have to be at least 18 years of age and terminally ill with a condition causing intolerable suffering.  Euthanasia advocate Andrew Denton urged WA parliamentarians not to resort to “tricky parliamentary tactics” ($). Australian Christian Lobby WA state director Peter Abetz opposes the bill, arguing: “Because nobody wants to be a burden to their loved ones, the mere availability of it creates a subtle pressure to access it.”

A coal lobby-backed research group is planning to spend up to $5 million on an advertising campaign to make Australians feel “proud about coal”. The COAL21 group tells the ABC the ad blitz aims to promote carbon capture and storage, but the technology is not mentioned in a brief sent to creative agencies and media production companies.

Future Fund and Nine Entertainment chairman and former federal treasurer Peter Costello has warned that the trade war between the US and China threatens the savings of Australian retirees, after the S&P/ASX 200 share index endured shed 2.4 per cent of its value yesterday — bringing two-day losses to $86 billion. “Unless the parties can sit down and actually sensibly negotiate, I think you are going to have a lot of uncertainty and a lot more gyrations on global markets in the weeks which are ahead,” Costello told The Australian. On Monday China decided to further devalue its currency after US President Donald Trump threatened another wave of tariffs on $US300 billion worth of Chinese products, triggering crashes in share markets globally. Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe warned global downside risks had risen and left open the possibility of further interest rate cuts. Australian shares are expected to bounce back modestly today ($) after US shares steadied overnight.

Thousands of people across the Pacific are dying from “easily treatable” cancers, according to a report from New Zealand's University of Otago. Lead author Professor Diana Sarfati said countries in the region had “poorly developed cancer screening, pathology, oncology, surgical and palliative care services. Added to this, access to morphine is very limited, so death can often be excruciating.” The report found the challenge is escalating due to population growth and ageing. Pacific Island states face between 20,000 and 45,000 additional cancer cases and between 12,000 and 28,000 additional deaths a year by 2040.

Racism and the judge
As a judge’s comments about Aboriginal people cause outrage, lawyers in the Northern Territory wonder why a key body hasn’t made a complaint. Russell Marks on the silence in the Northern Territory justice system.


“Australia’s practices of immigration detention and boat turnbacks are starting to be mimicked by other countries. Donald Trump’s detention centres have rightly been called concentration camps, and even moderate Democrats are fighting to end the regime. In Europe, our government’s ‘No way: You will not make Australia home’ campaign is so admired by neo-Nazi groups that you can often see posters bearing the same slogan and imagery at their rallies.”


“Last week’s investigations by Nine Media produced credible allegations that politicians, including two ministers, were involved in fast-tracking highly dubious characters past normal customs procedures and directly to Crown Casino, where they were supplied with anything they might want, including sex and drugs. But when the Greens and crossbenchers demanded a public inquiry, Attorney-General Christian Porter, with the support of a supine Labor Party, knocked them back with an ineffective alternative that would shield the politicians from scrutiny. This looks horribly like a stitch-up – an escalation of the corruption it was supposed to prevent”


“There are palettes smeared with colour, canvases leaning against tables, tins and hats, memorabilia from New Guinea, an old cassette player. Brushes in every size and shape hang from hooks on a wall. Lined in rows on timber shelves are his sketchbooks, dating back to the 1940s. The metal spirals of the sketchbooks are rusted, cloth covers faded or frayed, and the pages browning. Against the far wall is an antique sideboard covered with art books and papers, and a birthday card with red lettering that reads: What do you wish a 96-year-old? The card is a few years old now. In May this year Guy Warren turned 98.’”


“AFL Football Operations boss Steve Hocking reportedly told club executives of the league’s decision to shelve the AFLX in 2020 at a two-day league summit in Nagambie. Hocking stated the decision was made in order to give the elite women’s competition the time and resources it requires to grow, particularly given the arrival of four new clubs in what’s expected to be a significantly expanded 2020 season.”


“The executive who ran the football and cricket coverage at Channel Ten and Seven's cricket has called for the AFL broadcasters to bring women into the front line of their television commentary as callers and special comments analysts. Former head of Seven's cricket's coverage David Barham has told a women's sports conference in Melbourne that both the AFL and NRL needed to promote women from secondary hosting and boundary-riding roles to the prime positions of caller and special comments.”


“Need something that sounds like walking through crunchy snow? Try squishing corn starch in a leather bag. The gallop of a horse? Clap together some coconuts. Unlike other aspects of filmmaking, things haven’t actually changed that much for foley artists. When The Lord of the Rings films needed the snarl of an orc, they took a microphone to the ocean to record the squawks of baby elephant seals.”


Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.