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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 29 January 2010
Asbestos landfill in Hawkesbury river state rail land, ex oyster lease at Brooklyn?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: health


SAM has obtained photographs of what look like for all the world asbestos offcuts into a former oyster lease at Brooklyn just north of Sydney, apparently on State Rail land. We have also inspected the site briefly.

We understand the CFMEU (ie building union) have been notified about the safety issue. We don't have the expertise to say if it is definitely asbestos or not but we can say it's vintage fibreboard, in a fibro shelter locality and the shoreline looks to be reclamation of river bank.


If it is the wicked stuff the implications are very serious: The offcuts are widespread and layered in the mud, exposed at low tide, subject to all weather erosion. The cost of safe clean up, if ever, would be substantial.


Then who did the dumping? Did anyone in State Rail know about it? Did the former oyster lease operator conspire or were they a victim of illegal dumping. It's a sinister mystery.





Posted by editor at 10:53 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 29 January 2010 7:59 PM EADT
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Bad air in Sydney causing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and reflux?
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: health

Picture: File image from 2008 taken from Arncliffe to the CBD, and to Kingsford Smith Airport

At just after 6 am this morning the first international long haul flight over Marrickville (Heights) cleaves the dark air overhead. 20 minutes later editing a loosely written piece on this Slog the unmistakeable smell of diesel fumes wafts through the home office.

That's not healthy. Thanks for nothing airport. 

This echoes our vision last evening looking west from the Eastern Suburbs of a mist over the Sydney CBD. Was it natural mist? 10 years ago we recall holding up a sign outside the new Eastern Distributor tollway stating "400 premature deaths in Sydney per year from bad air" or something like that. We also got arrested on the picket line. Our view was that a cheap well organised southern railway should have made an Eastern Distributor redundant. Too many assumptions in there in hindsight.

By coincidence and before we see the day's press the Greens MP Lee Rhiannon comments on an air pollution story running today via the big media:

Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 6:26 AM
Subject: [Greens-Media] Leaked DECC documents reveal extent of Government'sfailure to reduce pollution

25 March 2009

Leaked DECC documents reveal extent of Government's failure to reduce

Greens MP and transport spokesperson Lee Rhiannon has criticised the
NSW Government for its failure to meet its own air quality targets,
following the release of a leaked draft copy of the government's Action
for Air 2009, which reports on measures to reduce emissions from
transport, industrial, commercial and domestic sources.

"The Action for Air report reveals the NSW government continues to miss
its targets for reducing photochemical smog and particle pollution,"
said Ms Rhiannon.

"The report links the government*s failure to meet its targets to the
lack of success in providing adequate public transport, integrating
urban planning with transport and shifting more freight onto rail.

"The top two objectives of the Action for Air plan are to integrate air
quality goals and urban transport planning and provide more and better
transport choices.

"Yet the government refuses to introduce tough policy measures to
reduce the overall number of vehicle kilometers traveled in NSW.

"The leaked report indicates that some pollution types will most likely
increase over the next decade due to climate change impacts and
population increases.

*If these trends are allowed to play out the future economic,
environmental and health costs of air pollution will be enormous.

"Vehicles and fuels might be getting cleaner, but the government has
done nothing to reduce our reliance on vehicles.

"Sydney*s population growth will see increased demand for housing,
transport, energy and consumer goods, which will all drive up air

"There is not one new pollution reduction initiative announced in this
report, nor any time frames for turning the pollution problem around.

"A host of rail and other public transport initiatives designed to
reduce vehicle use have been dropped by the government in the past

"It is crucial that the Government brings forward tough measures to get
people out of their cars and improve air quality," said Ms Rhiannon.

Which brings us to a personal anecdote. At 44 we have been suffering some heartburn around diet issues. Literally millions of people suffer heartburn and it's dangerous if not treated. This personal challenge seems to involve all kinds of changes like more exercise, more balanced diet, exclusion of certain foods, back up zantac tablets on the shelf at some supermarkets, caffeine free lifestyle (really, that hurts) etc etc. Such is mid life.

But we wonder if the story is a bit more profound than that around city air quality: We are taking action to relocate an hour north west of Sydney on a rural block and this involves alot of preparation digging a trench for mains grid, bushfire prevention work, cleaning out the dead rats, etc etc It's turning these soft hands hard.

But here's the thing. We don't get the gastric reflux out on the farm in the fresh air. We do get it in the city. It's not very scientific speaking as a biology science graduate because we are not exclusing limited diet there or exercise from the clean air or even the rainwater tank from the chlorine water supply but we wonder the association of reflux/heartburn/GERD with air pollution.

A brief google reveals this about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and reflux - these things can travel together at least by association:

Role of Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms in Exacerbations of COPD

Whether there is a mechanism linking the two or coincidence is another question. But it raises the question in our mind.

We do wonder. For 4 years 2001 to 2005 we lived just on the 400m boundary of the infamous M5 East freeway ventilation stack. Odourless, colourless and very unhealthy one assumes. Though we had an active delivery distribution job getting plenty of exercise you might think, during this time we seemed to go backwards in respiratory health. Invisible particulate pollution under 10 microns in size can do that. So can a lack of aerobic exercise as distinct from power work.

For all those reasons we are now looking forward to getting out to the farm even with the bushfire threat and clearing work needed around the house. Luckily there are two dams near by and we are taking advice on a bushfire bunker ... but that's another story in due course.

Posted by editor at 9:37 AM NZT
Monday, 20 October 2008
Antimony, Dr Google and chipped enamel pots
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: health



It's time to chuck out our favourite enamel porridge pot. And enamel plates and cups all invariably chipped. They've done good service over the years but a bit of Dr Google has got us spooked. We have been experiencing some heartburn on and off for years so we have been examining our diet and lifestyle lately. Some changes like cutting alcohol, decaff coffee, more exercise etc. Then we got to thinking about our cooking gear too.

Turns out chipped enamel leaks antimony. Turns out that mildly acidic foods like fruit juice in enamel is a no no and can cause temporary poisoning by leaching out the antimony. Or so says the various google sites on enamel. What about fruit muesli as porridge cooked on slow for half an hour while I go on the morning exercise regime?

Maybe they should be chucked out after all as a customer mentioned on a market stall to us once.


Posted by editor at 10:23 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 20 October 2008 10:52 AM NZT
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Does Coca Cola bottled water at Peats Ridge have a chook poo contamination problem in the future?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: health



As explained in our penultimate post we are a pro bono lawyer acting as an agent for a community objector to Coca Cola Amatil (CCA) bottled water extraction rates at Peats Ridge Springs/Mangrove Mountain, near Gosford on the NSW Central Coast.


What our review of the documentation has revealed based on CCA and state government's own documents is this from the affidavit of the community objector Neville Diamond sworn 13 June 2008:

Concerns flagged by the Dept of Agriculture in writing as far back as 2003 of nitrates from the chicken for meat farm production at the site next door and the potential for contamination of the bottled water product. Chicken farming as a business sector has intensified in parallel with the increased retail business of the bottled water industry. This doesn’t seem to be a very sensible combination for managing the risk to public health. In this respect I attach marked “M “ a letter from NSW Agriculture dated 4 December 2003:


"It is normal agricultural practice to use fertilisers containing nitrogen, any excess nitrogen not taken up by plants could leach into groundwater. Nitrates and nitrites in drinking water can be a health risk. Referral to the Central Coast Public Health Unit may be necessary." 

Further in this respect I attach marked “ AB “ a report of ERM consultants to CCA/Peats Ridge Springs dated  Sept 2004 at page 11:

If nitrate concentrations in on-site wells continue to increase despite this strategy, more significant measures would be considered in consultation with DIPNR, which may include (but not limited to):

·         Installation of additional production wells farther from the Azzopardi property boundary, which appears to be a significant source of elevated nitrate in groundwater,;




·         A decrease in the rate of groundwater abstraction to halt the advance of nitrate-impacted groundwater on site.


Further measures to address increasing groundwater contamination from offsite sources may be considered as required, and would involve consultation between PRS [CCA] and DIPRNR”

[And at p15]

“It should be noted that the commercial success of PRS [CCA] business is strongly dependent on compliance with the relevant water quality standards (ANZF, 1987), such that minimising the on-site encroachment of nitrate-impacted groundwater is a common objective of both PRS [CCA] and DIPNR.”

Similarly in the ERM report dated October 2003 attached marked “ AC “ states:

- “The ANZFA 1987 Food Standards Code – Standard 08 – Mineral Water criteria were not exceeded in any well on any sampling occasion;

- Nitrogen (as nitrate plus nitrite and total N) mean concentrations are higher in wells MB5, MB10 and MB11, positioned along the boundary with the Azzopardi poultry farm, compared to wells MB2 and MB7. This indicates that the poultry farm activities, particularly with respect to disposal of manure, may be impacting groundwater beneath the site. However, nitrogen concentrations do not appear to be increasing with  time, indicating that the groundwater system at the site is in steady-state (refer Annex A) [not included here]. Note though, that there is a trend evident in MB2, in which both the NOx and TN concentrations increase and then decrease. In the context of fractured groundwater system, this indicates either a one-off nitrogen pulse moving through the system or an intermittent nitrogen source, and


* Groundwater flow at the site is to the southwest and south-southwest with an average hydraulic gradient of 0.03 to 0.04.”

We will be submitting to the Land & Environment Court and the court of public opinion that an increase to permanent extraction of 66 megalitres a year raises a real question over wise public health policy of a water extraction for bottling next to expanding (uncaged) chicken farming nearby.  



But what has this to do with Climate change in the graphic above anyway? Well food production should be close to metropolitan markets to save on fossil fuel use. This strongly suggests Peats Ridge/Mangrove Mountain should have a priority for traditional agricultural use, not bottled water which essentially same water product is already transported by gravity fed pipe system.


Other articles here on SAM micro news service about Coca Cola at Peats Ridge/Mangrove Mountain here:

- 24 June 2008 Coca Cola's nominated, and court appointed expert 'blinks' twice on report deadline?



- 1 June 2008 Coca Cola Amatil bottled water legals: Ratepayers force reversal by Gosford Council so far



- 1 June 2008 Objecter seeks to be heard in Coca Cola bottled water case after driest May on record


21 May 2008 Coca Cola in Environment Court on 6 June over Mangrove Mtn bottled water extraction

Posted by editor at 7:15 AM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 28 June 2008 10:06 AM NZT
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Grog pushers in the Sydney press today, Denton/ABC leverage social concerns
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: health

The ABC are running a tv show promotion with the angle of 'adverts' on the public broadcaster. It's an Andrew Denton viral marketing tactic by this advertising agency Three Drunk Monkeys:

 Fury at spoof advert on ABC | NEWS.com.au

and the Sydney Daily Telegraph are running a straight story (above) today as if by way of interference as they take the big advert revenue for retail grog. As they do over at the Sydney Morning Herald. 

The whole alcohol impact on society is getting a thorough dose of salts at the moment, and we wonder indeed if alcohol is actually promotes political apathy amongst voters by dulling the senses (all the better to keep worker bees in their place?).

We also had a dig at News Ltd there for being surrounded by pubs yesterday which we feel is not their fault but might cloud their judgement so to speak. More power to Andrew Denton we say and his Gruen ditty as per Adam Spencer abc 702 radio show this morning not so far away from the sex advert juxtaposition above in the SDT.

7 May 2008 News Ltd HQ in Sydney keeping afloat 10 pubs all within 500 metres?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: big media

Apparently only 2 alcoholic drinks a day increases one's chance of cancer fo the throat, breast, liver, bowel, stomach. It's all pretty awful really. The trouble with alcohol like most drugs is that it's a great deceiver, so most will probably brush off this warning as not real in part at least because their judgement is damaged by the alcohol itself. We know prohibition is dangerous to good government too but more effective education is always welcome.

8 May 08 Even two drinks a high cancer risk

ALCOHOL is one of the most well-established causes of cancer and there is no safe level of consumption, the Cancer Institute NSW has concluded after an extensive analysis of worldwide research.

The state government agency will today release a new report on the strong link between alcohol consumption and cancer, highlighting alarmingly high rates of risk from just two drinks a day.

The institute says alcohol is particularly linked to cancer of the upper-aero digestive tract, breast, colorectum, liver and stomach.

Its report, Alcohol As A Cause Of Cancer, says the risk of cancer in the upper-aero digestive tract is increased by 40 per cent (voicebox) and by 75 per cent (mouth and pharynx) from two alcoholic drinks a day.

The risk of breast cancer is 11 to 22 per cent higher in women that drink than in non-drinkers.

Four drinks a day increased a man's risk of bowel cancer by 64 per cent.

The institute said there was convincing evidence that heavy consumption increased the risk of liver cancer, starting at about 17 per cent from two drinks a day. There was a modest increase of 7 per cent in the risk of stomach cancer from two drinks a day.

High alcohol consumption, of about eight drinks a day, increased the risk at any site by 90 per cent.

"This report … presents the results from a systematic review of the world's literature on alcohol and cancer and clearly shows that the consumption of alcohol, even at moderate levels, is associated with an increased risk of several cancers," the chief executive officer of the institute, Professor Jim Bishop, said.

Bowel and breast cancer are the second- and third-most common cancers in NSW.

Posted by editor at 1:59 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 8 May 2008 2:39 PM NZT
Friday, 18 April 2008
Asbestos dust in Bayulgil area: Greens force investigation
Mood:  blue
Topic: health

 We first became aware of this issue via a mpeg radio broadcast on www.SydneyIndyMedia.org.au [to be advised soon] 

  March 20 2008 Assault on Washpool with John and Binna mp3 

[our comment at the time follows]

This is hot On March 20th, 2008 ecology action ... says:

Well done Kaput radio, very important story. 

Timbarra country is indeed spectacular perched wetland, almost like misty rainforests of PNG with rocky outcrops. So if its like that it's great, and I recall seeing some top images of the place too: Lifted this of NRMA website


 and Glen Innes Information Centre


Kwiambal falls

I recognise Johnny Chai's voice in the interview with all that experience over the successful struggle to protect Timbarra, which I donated to about 8 years back.

Very revealing of the cyanide mining agenda. Price of gold has skyrocketed lately too.

Washpool is one of the areas protected at least in part in the 1990ies under the Wilderness Act 1987 (NSW).

 Here's a bit of the conservation history here to 1999,  which is then superceded by the NSW Govt forest decision for the Upper North East RFA/CRA govt strategy. So whether these miners are exploring in conservation tenure or otherwise is a mystery to me.

One thing I do recall is that the Dept of Mineral Resources tend to drive a truck through most conservation legislation except for national park itself.

So it could be unprotected legally identified but unprotected wilderness intended for protection under the 1987 Act process mentioned above. 



Greens MP Lee Rhiannon - Media Release  - 17 April 2008

Asbestos dust in Bayulgil area: Greens force investigation

NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon today welcomed a commitment from the NSW Minister for the Environment to seek urgent advice from NSW Health as to whether to investigate possible health risks from asbestos dust rising from roads in the Baryulgil area, following the Greens questions about the use of tailings from the James Hardie Asbestos mine in Baryulgil to build roads in the area.

"The Minister for the Environment Ms Verity Firth says she will also ask Clarence Valley Council  whether it's monitoring roads for potential asbestos contamination, 'and take appropriate action once the detailed advice has been obtained','" Greens roads spokesperson Ms Rhiannon said.

This commitment comes in response to questions from Lee Rhiannon to the Environment Minister:

"The Greens share the concerns of locals about the plumes of dust that cover vehicles, residents and animals created by the consistent traffic from logging trucks and tourists visiting the Washpool World Heritage Park.

"It is high time the NSW government stopped ignoring concerns about this potential risk.

"Asbestos is a silent killer. On this issue there is no room for the complacency that for so long resulted in the refusal of governments and James Hardie to acknowledge the real dangers of asbestos.

"I trust that Ms Firth will ensure NSW Health and the local council treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves.

"The three decades during which the Baryulgil mine operated left lasting scars on the health of workers and residents, many of whom were Aboriginal. Many have since died or been seriously affected by asbestos related illnesses.

"It is very important that the NSW government and local councils actively manage the toxic remnants of the Baryulgil mine," Ms Rhiannon said.

For more information: 9230 3551, 0427 861 568

Posted by editor at 12:32 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 18 April 2008 1:48 PM NZT
Thursday, 27 March 2008
Grog pushers really under pressure in the public debate over binging?
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: health


We notice the attempt to close down the binge drinking capitals of Coogee at 1am. As a former councillor at Waverley who considered this question in a debate over Bondi Hotel, we know that it's usually the Liquor Licensing Court that has final say over all these matters and the liquor and hospitality industry are very powered up to generate evidence for their case.

In other words they usually win whether it really is in the public interest or not.

Out in the court of public opinion the ABC power audience are getting one version including via Fairfax reportage above.

Mayor's plan to shut beach hotels early MATTHEW MOORE | Two of the biggest hotels in NSW will be forced to lock their doors early.

But compare and contrast the rough and ready advertising pages of the Daily Telegraph today, Herald also, and one sees that the financial clout of the retail liquor industry out in force, and virtually swamping the anti alcohol forces in another contest.

True the hotels-binge drinking sector of the industry is distinct from the supermarket and retail sector, but there is a definite feel of mixed messages coming from the corporate sector here. And a sense of legalised drug pushers running society.

Posted by editor at 11:29 AM NZT
Friday, 21 March 2008
Easter holiday just another retailers' binge drinking sales opportunity?
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: health

There's quite a bit of coverage about the alcohol industry, aka culturally 'acceptable' drug pushers, in the washout from PM Rudd fanning a 'moral panic' over binge drinking:

- 20 March 08 Advertisers and alcohol industry prepare for inquiry showdown ...

- 20 March 08 Alcohol ads ban 'ignores internet' | The Australian

- 19 March 08 New liquor rules will ruin us: pubs

- 20 March 06 page 3 'girl' Sydney Daily TelegraphBeating the grog ... Catherine Britt.

How country superstar Catherine Britt beat grog | NEWS.com.au ...

- 21 March 08 Liquor giants call time on alcopops

- 21 March 08 Closing time: court upholds hotel decision JULIAN LEE | Days of sickly sweet alcopops laced with energy may be numbered.

We totally agree with putting the weights on the disaster of binging. Been there done that. We even spent 12 months slog work in a fine wine and liquor shop called KM Lynch in Warrnambool in our gap year out of school. A pretty miserable education in human nature it was too.

But make no mistake the pushers are working their corner as is their democratic right, the alternative being all the ills of prohibition. We noticed this push in the retail adverts:

And judging by the Big Media content there is quite a way to go - a caller pre 7 am told Simon Mahoney yesterday that she dreaded the chaos of Easter break with 6 adults and 7 children on the south coast so she was off to get a few bottles of wine for several drinks. How's that for gormless recruitment exemplar? The lesson for today  children, when stressed out turn to drink. That's the perils of talkback.

And today the Good Friday Telegraph has a dating article featuring happy times in a boozy pub facing off with the singles. Same lesson - stressed getting a partner? Turn to your local alcohol/pub scene and get over it.  It's arguable whether this page 3 story same newspaper really balances the situation. Looks like the cashed up pubs and alcohol industry haven't got too much to worry about yet.



Posted by editor at 10:10 AM NZT
Updated: Friday, 21 March 2008 10:54 AM NZT
Monday, 10 March 2008
Albanese's asbestos shame in the heart of Grayndler
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: health

  Anthony Albanese  

Anthony Albanese has been the Member for Grayndler since 1996.


Addison Rd Centre is supposed to be the biggest community centre in Australia. Located in the inner west of Marrickville at no. 142 Addison, it is certainly big with some 42 tenants of diverse nature. It was an army barracks then immigration centre and since the 1970ies a state government lease to a community board. There are several groups on federal govt grants like Children's Services Central and  Greening Australia one way or another.

This writer was an employee on the grounds staff at the ARC from 2002 to 2007.


We have written previously of the dubious ALP controlled management of the centre with current general manager Yvette Andrews, one of the ALP Left 'Meredith Burgman all stars':

Saturday, 16 February 2008

and more here

 Tuesday, 29 January 2008,

Acting General Manager Addison Rd Centre resigns effective this Friday
Mood:  smelly
Topic: local news

 and will again regarding the determined secrecy of the finances of the rent free, privately run gallery for 4 years 2003-2007 while having $30K picture(s) on sale, with no accounts submitted over this 4 year period as we understand. Beautiful works no doubt sold out of public land and for whose profit or purpose? 


One might well ask from a green and left point of view this time, where indeed does the money go, and where is the transparency? Into a Patrice Newell/Phillip Adams campaign to sideline The Green Party in the last federal election might be one line of inquiry:

 Or to keep a struggling gallery up and going, in competition with the general market, so why no public reporting of financial accounts?

But this post is primarily about the scourge of asbestos because we are heading into the budget season and local federal MP Anthony Albanese, a big wheel in the new federal government is on notice his time is up on this issue.

As Minister for Infrastructure he is lock step with the state govt on a highly polluting $5B truck tunnel under his own electorate. Meanwhile a shameful legacy of asbestos is festering at Addison Rd despite a childcare centre on the grounds, community markets, any number of community events on the green.

This shameful situation has continued for 30 years at least under governments of ALP and Coalition. But Albanese is the man in harness now and has at least since 1996 been responsible for getting a solution to this real and present danger. Alternatively its his state MP wife Carmel Tebbutt. Either way it's the ALP government.

What is Albanese going to do about it? Those asbestos rooves are badly weathering. It's a health time bomb. At the very least they should be treated with sealant via a spray gun by experts. They should be totally removed and replaced, if not the whole of the buildings - by order of the State Govt authorities. 

It's not just Mr Rudd's recent forced (?) backflip on cuts to carers in the current razor gang budgetary process in tight fiscal times and inflation that have the govt in a rock and hard place situation. It's life and death issues like the ongoing scandal of the taboo subject of asbestos at Addison Rd Centre, facilitated by the conspiratorial (lack of?) governance that keeps such concerns a closed shop.

Mr Rudd can praise Bernie Banton at his funeral caused by asbestos but the Addison Rd Centre reality with various federal government grantee tenants doesn't quite gel with that public stance, does it?

Posted by editor at 6:19 AM NZT
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Asbestos and the struggle for redemption of spin merchant ex premier Bob Carr?
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: health

Bernie Banton — the public face in the successful battle on behalf of asbestos victims against James Hardie —  with his wife, Karen, and son, Dean, after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma last August.

Picture: Working class hero, Bernie Banton who died recently after a winning battle over many years against corporate criminal James Hardy, flanked by wife Karen and son. What lessons will be learned in terms of  political and corporate governance as a result of the heroic efforts of Mr Banton and others?

Later today we will visit Addison Rd Centre with at least 5, and probably more, buildings with corrugated asbestos roofing.

The community land at 142 Addison Rd Marrickville has been through the hands of the Dept of Defence as a recruitment base in WW2, and Vietnam War, Immigration centre in the 70ies, and diverse cultural centre for the last 30 years.

Only this year 2007 have these signs been going up:



The president of the ARC Board Andrews said at the recent Annual General Meeting that she didn't "want to be alarmist" but they were taking action as required by the legislation.

Such action has been reinforced by the enormous struggle and effort of one Bernie Banton (SMH Slideshow: Bernie Banton in his own words, Video: Tributes flow for Bernie Banton (7.30 Report) ) and his supporters. In our activist career we can truly say we have not seen such a deserving winner of a State Funeral as Banton at Homebush Bay today. The details of the event are here 10.30am. We thought of him many days in our part time gardening work at the ARC this last 4 years finding scraps of asbestos in the landscape a bit too often than is really comfortable.

(We recall the day in 2007 a tenant there at Sidetrack Theatre encouraged us to clean out his hopelessly jammed gutters below one such corrugated rooftop. No thanks.)

We note the big wrap given recently to the ABC's Matt Peacock for urging the activist groups to push Bernie Banton forward as the public face of the campaign against James Hardy.

We noticed in the lead up to this State Funeral that Bob Carr - who we say was forceably retired after his 10 year reign as premier - has an increasing role in the memorial 'Bernie Banton research facility' into asbestos diseases at Concord Hospital.

We feel a jarring disjunction given Carr as Premier, as we understand it, or at least his regime well knew of the legal proceedings that permited cunning asbestos purveyor James Hardie to restructure via an order of the NSW Supreme Court in 2001. The actual court decision is here. We say a regime that well knew but failed to act given it's legendary lack of rigour and triumph of style over substance that the Carr regime became synonmymous with. Sure enough the federal regulator ASIC and Judge Santow accepted the woeful assurances of James Hardy they would fully finance projected compensation claims and the NSW Govt dropped the ball too.


We note this highly suggestive quote by Andrew Ferguson a well known union leader in the NSW construction sector made in November 2004 about the findings of the Jackson Inquiry earlier that year (made in an international conference in Japan) apparently referring to the 1995-2001 period that prefaced the 2001 creation of the so called Medical Research and Compensation Fund (part of the James Hardy asset offshoring strategy):

 "Peter Macdonald (CEO), Greg Baxter (VP Corporate Affairs), and Steve Ashe (VP Public Affairs) implemented a ‘communications strategy’, in relation to the creation of the MRCF, in which the fears of key stakeholders, including the NSW Government, were allayed by misleading statements." [bold added] in  

James Hardie – US Multinational versus Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union of Australia (CFMEU), Australian Trade Union Movement, asbestos victims and Trades Union International of Workers in the Building, Wood, Building Materials and Allied Industry (UITBB) Speech delivered by Andrew Ferguson, NSW State Secretary Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union Global Asbestos Conference Tokyo, Japan November 2004 Special thanks to Australia Legal Firms Slater & Gordon and Taylor & Scott for background material for this presentation. In PDF version, and HTML version here.

Ex federal treasurer Peter Costello seemed to be wise to this reality as we recall him in federal parliament over the official radio broadcasts in recent years targetting the Carr Govt failure to keep a check on James Hardy legal skulduggery. Costello didn't appreciate being drawn into the whole affair in relation to taxation and other corporate regulation. On the other hand Costello and the federal agency ASIC have alot to answer for too for the 2001 debacle in the NSW Supreme Court.

 Picture: Ex premier of NSW Bob Carr now chairman of the Concord Hospital Asbestos research facility opened in 2007. Within weeks of retiring in 2005 Carr joined big capital in the form of Macquarie Bank.

So though the NSW Govt were not a formal party to the Supreme Court proceedings of 2001 before Santow J it defies belief they were not aware of the factual matrix of the slow motion legal disaster unfolding, only rectified in 2007.

By 2004 the NSW Govt under Carr were backpedalling under the ferocious backlash of the assembled unions and civil society broadly based. Whether left or right, green or brown, rich or poor, young or old, we have all been exposed and some of us will die of the toxic stuff. Bernie Banton knew this and told us straight.

Bob Debus as then Attorney General of NSW also knew it and pushed hard for reform of defamation laws which in effect allowed the civil society groups to defame the James Hardie Corporation without fear of SLAPP suits. The national and other state govts fell into line with the law reform: It was James Hardy v Australia. This law reform is another ongoing legacy of Bernie Banton's fight and of those who most actively supported him.

We expect to hear Bob Carr on the mainstream media today. He may or may not mention his own Jackson Inquiry made necessary to sort out the mess of the Supreme Court wave through of the JH offshore corporate restructure farce: The corporate dance intended to shift their assets out of reach of what became a $4 Billion compensation fund for systemic industrial manslaughter. The legal trickey of Allens, the no.1 corporate legal sharks in Sydney, on behalf of their client James Hardy in 2001  had failed.


Images of the State Funeral today following the speech by widow Karen Banton:



We loved you here Bernie Banton, no fear of that.

Posted by editor at 6:48 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007 8:14 PM EADT

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