||Issue No. 181||06 June 2003|
History: Nest of Traitors
Interview: A Nation of Hope
Unions: National Focus
Safety: The Shocking Truth
Tribute: A Comrade Departed
History: Working Bees
Education: The Big Picture
International: Static Labour
Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Technology: Google and Campaigning
Review: Secretary With A Difference
Poetry: The Minimale
Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
The Locker Room
Response to Gould
Aged Policy Looks Hairy
God Save Billy Deane
More Bad Language
Allianz Claims on Sick and Dying
The CFMEU and AMWU this week blew the cover on a hush-hush Allianz campaign to wash its hands of millions of dollars owed victims of dust-related diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Allianz is lobbying vigorously for "occupational claims" to be moved from the Dust Diseases Board to the Workers Compensation Commission. Success would see compensation settlements capped, claims die with the victims, and allow Allianz to shift remaining liability onto the public.
Angry AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, warned the state Government acqueisance would buy a fight.
"Bob Carr has got a lot to answer for over workers comp but he will have a lot more to bloody answer for if he is even contemplating cutting the benefits of victims of these diseases," Bastian said.
"Wharfies, construction workers, metal workers and many others know what it is like to lose a comrade to mesothelioma. It's a horrible, painful death, very hard on the family at the time, and not easy to overcome."
Bastian lashed Allianz for accepting premiums over more than 20 years then trying to shift the burden. He accused it of chasing a "windfall profit".
"This company accepted premiums from asbestos and lagging manufacturers for many years. These funds were invested and the company reaped the profit. The company made a calculated business decision that the number of people it needed to compensate would be less than the profits.
"Allianz has access to the same actuarial information that we do and the bottom line is they made a bad business decision. Their clients killed more people than they estimated," Bastian said.
CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, said his union had been made aware of the same industry gossip. He called the proposal "totally unacceptable".
Leading industrial barrister Adam Searle was stunned by the prospect. Searle, chief of staff for IR Minister Jeff Shaw, when Dust Diseases legislation was toughened in 1998 said any watering down would be "disgraceful".
He described diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma as "fast onset and destructive, offering a narrow window to hear and resolve claims".
He said Shaw had been moved to act because of a "concerted campaign by insurance companies to delay claims until victims died and their access to general damages died with them."
Unlike most accidents, Searle explained, victims were generally elderly and often retired, meaning general compensation was a much more significant component of settlements than the economic loss factor which generally dominated.
"This would represent an enormous disgrace," Searle said. "On the day it went through Parliament in 1998 it got glowing write-ups as well as the support of all cross bench MPs."
Labor Council is seeking assurances from state government that it will not entertain Allianz's claims.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|