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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 134


Senator NETTLE (6:48 PM) —Last week was the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. It is often described as the worst industrial accident in history. It was in fact a corporate crime of enormous magnitude—a crime that continues now with Union Carbide and its parent company, Dow Chemical, attempting to avoid liabilities to the victims of Bhopal.

The James Hardie (Investigations and Proceedings) Bill 2004 we are debating today seeks to address another terrible corporate crime—a corporate crime that has affected thousands of Australians and will continue to affect many more into the future. Unlike the Bhopal disaster, James Hardie's negligence did not happen in one day; it is a creeping, silent crime that has affected workers and their families across the country and it is a crime that has continued over decades.

The Greens support this bill because it will allow ASIC and the DPP to access materials obtained by the New South Wales commission of inquiry that would otherwise be subject to legal professional privilege and then to use those documents to investigate whether James Hardie has breached the Corporations Act. Any action that can be taken to ensure James Hardie is brought to justice will be supported by the Greens.

Debate interrupted.