Finding a cure the only way to stop deaths

According to the ADS, based in Osborne Park, more than 305 of its members died because of asbestos-caused diseases last year.

Despite a recent announcement that company James Hardie would pay more than $122 million to the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (AICF) on July 1, Mr Vojakovic said it would not stop people from getting sick.

He said with James Hardie required to pay 35 per cent of its net profit into the AICF, compensation for asbestos victims was sufficient, but medical research was severely lacking.

He said the Government and James Hardie should be paying to help find a cure.

‘If $5 million for 10 years was put into finding a cure for asbestos-related diseases, guaranteed, we would find a cure,’ Mr Vojakovic said.

The former Wittenoom worker, who took on governments in the mid 1980s to help asbestos victims, said about 75 per cent of Perth properties still contained some form of asbestos.

Mr Vojakovic said of about 38,000 State Government-owned houses in Perth, about 14,000 contained some form of asbestos content, so the situation would get worse.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Kim Hames said the Department of Health undertook an advisory role to local governments and other agencies in relation to asbestos management.

‘Generally, the first point of contact for residential asbestos issues is the relevant local government,’ the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for James Hardie said the company had provided more than $1 billion towards asbestos related compensation, medical research and education since 2001.

‘James Hardie has contributed to medical research into prevention, treatment and cure of asbestos related diseases and has more recently provided amounts to support clinical trials to develop a new treatment for mesothelioma,’ the spokesperson said.

Slater and Gordon senior asbestos lawyer Margaret Kent said she did not expect asbestos cases to peak until 2020.She said more claims had already been made in WA and South Australia than previous years.