the emasculation of governments!

  1. 4,434 Posts.
    What's more obscene, the emasculation of governments or the behaviour of corporations?

    Hardie payout cuts 'obscene'
    November 26, 2004 - 11:12AM

    ASIC: James Hardie investigation

    Prime Minister John Howard today said threatened cuts to payouts for James Hardie asbestos victims were obscene.


    Mr Howard said the matter would best be resolved by corporate watchdog the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

    The foundation established by James Hardie to meet compensation claims by victims of diseases caused by asbestos in its building products is facing liquidation and may be forced to cut payouts to as little as 10 cents in the dollar.

    "This is becoming obscene," observed Melbourne radio station 3AW presenter Steve Price in an on-air interview with the prime minister today.

    "It is," replied Mr Howard, "but there are legal processes and no government can abrogate those legal processes.

    "I watched the chairman of the company last night on ABC television put the case. Everybody is sympathetic to the victims. Everybody is critical of any attempt by any company to avoid its legal responsibilities."

    Asked if that was what was happening, Mr Howard said he wasn't in a position to make a final judgment.

    "I do know this - as far as the federal government is concerned, we are putting all the resources (that) are needed for ASIC to do a proper investigation of any wrongdoing by the company," he said.

    "That is the appropriate body, not me or the treasurer."

    "It is investigating the findings of the Jackson inquiry in NSW and determining whether there should be any prosecutions under national law against this company or anybody involved in the company."

    Mr Howard said it wasn't a good idea for him to prejudge that inquiry.

    He said in the meantime there was legal to-ing and fro-ing between the foundation and James Hardie with the foundation refusing to accept certain money the company had made available.

    Mr Howard said that was understandable on the grounds that it might compromise its legal position.

    "That is something that has got to be sorted out between the two of them," he said.

    "But at the end of the day the company has got to meet its obligations and we will make all federal law agencies available to ensure that that happens."

    "That is the nature of due process in a system that lives by the law.

    Mr Howard admitted it was frustrating but the alternative was worse.

    "You can't just have people arbitrarily deciding things without the law being properly applied," he said.

    "I don't think there is an easy way of speeding it up. Negotiation between the company and bona fide representatives of the people who are suffering is the best way of speeding it up."

    - AAP
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