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Australia’s leading compensation law firm, Slater and Gordon, has welcomed news James Hardie will put forward a substantial sum of money to meet its obligations to asbestos victims next financial year.
James Hardie has announced it will pay more than $A122 million to the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (AICF) on 1 July, 2014, after it doubled its full year profit.
Slater and Gordon senior asbestos lawyer Margaret Kent said it was a relief asbestos victims would continue to have access to compensation in the immediate future.
“It is pleasing to see James Hardie getting its house in order,” Ms Kent said.
“Many Australian may have wished to see the end of James Hardie when it became clear its asbestos products were capable of causing harm and when the company was exposed for attempting to shirk its responsibilities
“While the company no longer manufactures asbestos, it continues to make profits and a portion of its earnings are re-directed into the AICF every year.
”It doesn’t change the fact ordinary Australians have and will continue to become ill, and even die, from asbestos, but it’s important they provide significant compensation for their wrong-doing.”
James Hardie must pay 35 per cent of its cash flow into the AICF under a 2005 agreement with the NSW government and unions.
According to James Hardie’s annual report, it received 608 asbestos-related claims to the year ending March 31, far above the 540 it was expecting. Claims in WA and SA rose, while Victorian claims were steady and those in Queensland dropped.
“An alarming number of Australians continue to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases,” Ms Kent said.
“Cases are not expected to peak until 2020. We hope the AICF will be able to meet future demand for compensation.”