It is less than a week until the premiere of Devil’s Dust, a movie about asbestos in Australia and the corporate maneuverings of James Hardie Industries to minimise its exposure to compensation claims but its lessons spread beyond asbestos to politics, corporate responsibility and individual morality.
In a recent article on the movie, the depiction of then New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, was mentioned. The politics of asbestos is well shown in the Carr depiction. The asbestos issue seemed to have little importance until a political value was placed on the issue. Carr, a Labour Party politician, then acted, met people affected by asbestos-related diseases and made clear statements of moral significance about asbestos and corporate responsibility.
“I have enormous sympathy for those who suffered asbestos-related diseases,” she said in a statement to The Australian. “There were members of the CSR executive management team who also died of asbestos-related diseases who had worked at Wittenoom.
“As one of the lawyers in the case, I acted ethically and professionally at all times in accordance with client instructions.” [link added]
There is no doubt that Bishop acted ethically and professionally in her role as a lawyer but by 2007, the issue of asbestos exposure and compensation had moved to a moral basis. Are companies who resist providing compensation for illnesses caused by their products being heartless or responsible corporate citizens? More…