James Hardie and Asbestos-related Diseases Liability
Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: My question without notice is directed to the Premier. Given the potential underfunding of James Hardie's asbestos liabilities and the notes that I have of a meeting between the Premier's chief of staff, Graham Wedderburn, and James Hardie industries which state, "Carr okay" and "support from Della", why did the Premier not review the actuarial calculations before the asbestos fund was announced on 16 February 2001?
Mr BOB CARR: I am advised that representatives of James Hardie Ltd sought to brief Government representatives on a matter before they advised the Australian Stock Exchange. The State Government has no corporations power. James Hardie said that it would make an announcement in the stock exchange. It wanted to brief the State Government. The board that made a decision in relation to the asbestos fund advised my chief of staff and others of this development. My chief of staff asked the Hardie representatives whether they believed they had sufficient funds and they advised that they did. The State Government lacks a corporations power.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Cronulla will come to order.
Mr BOB CARR: We do not have the power to stop them making an announcement before the stock exchange. We do not have power over corporate arrangements.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order for the second time.
Mr BOB CARR: We do not have power over corporations. This Parliament relinquished that power some years ago. This Government set up a special commission of inquiry. The Attorney General and the Special Minister of State have taken the opportunity to meet with the Asbestos Diseases Foundation and the insurance industry to discuss dust diseases issues. But the Attorney General and the Minister recognise that the Dust Diseases Tribunal is an international best practice judicial body that provides rapid and just compensation for victims of dust diseases. There is currently no bill waiting for introduction or even waiting to be drafted that would revise the status of that tribunal.