James Hardie reported net profit of $US104.9 million in the three months to June 30 2010, up from a loss of $US77.9 million in the first quarter of 2009/10. Net operating profit was $US40.5 million, excluding the company's asbestos obligations, down three per cent on the prior corresponding period.
On the other hand, my 79 year old mother is now dying from pleural mesothelioma. The only cause of this lethal cancer is exposure to asbestos. My father worked for James Hardie's for 30 years as an electrician on the factory floor.
The building giant yesterday blamed restructuring for the move, which it said was likely to reduce the amount it paid into the fund in July next year by up to $US11.4m ($10.76m).
Asbestos campaigners reacted angrily. "It's not the case that asbestos isn't manufactured any more and therefore is no longer a problem," Karen Banton, widow of veteran asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton, told Seven News last night. "Asbestos is everywhere."
Mesothelioma, a cancer usually triggered by asbestos exposure, has long been seen as a disease affecting men. But a study by the NSW Cancer Institute found that while the mesothelioma rate in men had stabilised, the rate in women was increasing by 4.9 per cent every year.