||Issue No. 231||30 July 2004|
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
Tom On Alienation
High Jump for Hardies
The recommendations on findings were tabled this week by Jackson Inquiry counsel assisting, John Sheahan, SC.
He says the evidence supports adverse findings against company lawyer, Peter Shafron, managing director, Peter Macdonald, chairman, Alan McGregor, and chief financial officer, Phillip Morley.
Sheahan submits the commission could find Macdonald may be liable to prosecution for misleading the stock exchange.
The sensational submissions came as it was revealed the trust set up by Australia's largest asbestos producer was likely to fall more than $2 billion short of meeting entitlements of sufferers of asbestos-related lung diseases.
Hardie had told the High Court and the state government it would leave sufficient funds in Australia to meet forseeable claims. Months later, at a secret board meeting after moving its headquarters to the Netherlands, it cancelled the relevant arrangement.
AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, who has fought a three-year battle for James Hardie to compensate lung disease sufferers and their families, said vindication of his union's position would not be enough.
"We have said all along that this was an act or corporate bastardry designed to sanitise James Hardie's name and remove its assets from the reach of dying Australians," Bastian said.
"These submissions vindicate that position but the real issue is to make the company meet its responsibilities and ensure some justice for the people who will die."
His union has written to NSW Premier, Bob Carr, with a five-point proposal to remedy "injustices" identified by evidence to the Jackson Inquiry.
The AMWU is urging government to ...
- replace management of MRCF, the trust fund created by Hardies when it moved to Holland.
- establish the office of a special James Hardie Prosecutor who would be given power, by legislation, to pursue all claims against the company, its advisers and officers who can be shown to have engaged in wrong doing.
- amend statutes of limitations in regard to proceedings against the James Hardie group and its various subsidiaries
- enact special purpose legislation to expedite litigation. Centrally, the AMWU believes evidence before the Jackson Inquiry should not have to be relitigated
- lift the corporate veil through amendmens to corporations laws and proposed amendments to the federal Corporations Act that would make Dutch-based James Hardie Industries NV accountable for the wrongdoing of it and its subsidiaries
In its final submission, James Hardie denied any wrong doing.
Commissioner David Jackson will report his findings to the NSW Government in September.
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