Exposed to Asbestos and Breached; the double king hit.

(The postings in this Blog are a memorial to the more than 3 million Aussie Battlers have been Breached. It is especially a memorial to the (estimated) 5,000+ Aussie Battlers who did not survive being breached. Please, help to spread the word about this humanitarian disaster by using the “Share with a friend “link in the right hand column.)

If your were a student in a South Australian DECS school during the late 1980s or early 1990s, you may have a 1 in 9 chance of dying slowly and painfully from a deadly Asbestos disease known as Mesothelioma.  (Pronounced MEZ-O-THEE-LEE-O-MA.) The time frame from exposure to death is in the order of 40-50 years so Asbestos is an incredibly slow killer with a 100% strike rate. The long delay means that many exposure victims are unable to identify when or where they were exposed to air borne Asbestos dust. (NOTE: Asbestos has a ZERO safety limit.)

Before you say “Crap”, “Garbage” or something even more to the point about the looming death toll, let me say that the proof is overwhelming. It has been in the public domain for years but you may not have bothered to pay attention because you did not think that it would affect you.

  1. In the early 1990s the SA Health Commission released a report stating that by 2020, an estimated 20,000 people would be dead or dying of Asbestos related cancers.
  2. The author(s) of the report could not identify the source of exposure.
  3. Recently, the SA Health Commission issued an update that put the estimated 2020 death toll at 15,000.
  4. The lower number is not a reduction of the initial estimated total expected number of 20,000 deaths but rather reflects the number of deaths that have occurred since the initial report was released nearly 20 years ago.

“South Australia is the Asbestos capital of the world”. 

 That statement was made by a popular member of South Australia’s parliament, Nick Xenophon, during an ABC radio interview on the afternoon of November 28th 2005. Earlier that day, accompanied by a young mum who was suffering from Mesothelioma, Nick Xenophon had held a rally on the steps of the SA Parliament during which he called upon the Rann Government to put through his Asbestos Victims Compensation legislation before Parliament rose for the Mach 2006 state election. When questioned about that statement, Mr. X explained that on a proportionate per head of population basis, South Australia had the highest incidence of Asbestos related diseases in the world. Again, like the writers of the SA Health Commission report, Mr. X did not know how so many people had been exposed to Asbestos.

“Completely unworkable” was the hard line response of the SA Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson on behalf of the Rann Government. Mr. Atkinson then belatedly remembered that Parliament was about to rise for an election and then mumbled something about perhaps looking at the legislation in the new year after the state election. I believe that that is what Peter Costello would perhaps refer to as a “non-core promise” as my impression of Mr. Atkinson’s comments were that they totally lacked conviction.

Whilst the Health Commission and Nick Xenophon did not know how so many people had been exposed to airborne Asbestos dust, I had a fairly good idea as a result of working for 7 years during the 1980s and early 1990s to expose serious health and safety risks in South Australian schools. Tucked away in amongst the thousands of pages of documents in my occupational health & safety files were the “minutes” of a secret meeting between Department of Labour and Education Department officials that officially never took place in late December 1992. Check the “minutes” carefully and you will note that for a two hour meeting, these minutes are incredibly brief. Too brief to represent more than a vague outline of what was discussed. Perhaps that is because there were supposed to no minutes for this “it never happened” meeting. However, at least one senior Department of Labour official was concerned enough to ensure that a record was made that would provide a clue as what was going on behind closed doors.

At 9:15 am on the 29th November 2005, I contacted Nick Xenophon’s office and briefed a female staff member on where to find the “keys” that would expose the proverbial skeletons in the closet . In addition I also provided a typed copy of the DLI minutes below.

Within hours of receiving this information, Nick Xenophon’s “Completely unworkable” legislation was rushed through the Legislative Council. Two days later, on the last day of “Sitting” for the House of Assembly, Nick Xenophon’s legislation was rushed through this chamber of parliament with a “minor amendment” that just happened to exempt the SA Government from the Bill. Anyone want to guess why that amendment was thought necessary?

The official excuse for this dramatic back flip was that the Rann Government has been overcome with compassion for the young mum who was dying of Mesothelioma. That this was a fabrication was borne out by the subsequent actions of the Rann Government which, having rushed the legislation through parliament, then sat on it for two years and did not have it proclaimed. Just days before the young mother of three children died, outraged family members contacted the news media to point out that the legislation had not been proclaimed!

When reading these ‘minutes”, note that DECS and SACON officials are clearly identified but Department of Labour officials are not identified.

When it comes to the critical question of WHO KNEW, the Labour Party certainly knew about the Asbestos problem and when the Liberal Party won the June 1993 state election, they also knew and kept silent. In the same manner, when it comes to the critical question of WHO KNEW about the Breaching Quota triggered deaths, the Liberal Party knew. When Kevin Rudd won the 2007 federal election, then the ALP also came to know about the breaching quota deaths. Following the example set by the Liberal Party in South Australia in 1993, the ALP has also kept quiet about the breaching quota deaths.

When it comes to WHO KNEW about both Breaching quota deaths and Asbestos exposure deaths, I can only think of one person who knew about both of these issues in 2005. The SA Premier and current President of the ALP, Mike Rann. In October 2005, a month before submission 287 was secretly classified as confidential, I personally took a CDROM containing several of the now classified confidential submission 287 files to Mike Rann’s ‘Ramsay’ electorate office in Commercial Road, Salisbury and briefed the (mature age) female receptionist on the breaching quotas death toll in the Ramsay electorate whilst two young “suits” stood nearby listening to what I was saying. (The video shows me going into Mike Rann’s office with the CDROM and coming out without it.)

When you read these “minutes” ask yourself these questions; “Do politicians and bureaucrats still conceal their deadly mistakes from the public”? If you think the answer is YES, consider what else they are hiding from YOU!

A question for lawyers; Can the current SA government claim copyright ownership of “minutes” of a meeting that ‘officially’ never happened?

Ron Medlicott (Christian welfare justice activist.)

Minutes-forming Enclosure to:



Following initial audits carried out in this Region from the <Content deleted > list of <deleted >sections of the public sector, the
Education Department has raised questions on requirements of certain aspects of our demands following <deleted > by Inspectors on <deleted > noted in some of the schools.

One particular area of their concern has been the necessity to have in place where applicable an asbestos register. Their claim was that they had five years to comply.
A meeting was held on Wednesday 23 December 1992 in the Conference Room on the 5th level of Natwest building to discuss these issues.

In attendance were:
Gerry Styles – Asbestos Management Unit SACON
Laurie Phillips – Assistant Director (School Building Service) Education Department Brian March -Education
Trevor Roach – Manager Facilities School Building Services Education department

and for the Department of Labour
Manager – Regional Services
Manager – Mineral Fibres
Regional Manager – Southern
Prosecutions Officer
2 Inspectors Occupational Health, Safety & Welfare – Southern Regional Office

The ensuring 2 hour discussion outlined the basis for the audit the requirement for compliance and a
general understanding of the Education Departments situation and need for
compliance given financial

A list of the schools to be audited has been sent to both Laurie Phillips and Gerry Styles so that they will
be aware that these premises may seek a higher priority should deficiencies be noted or a need for
assessment for asbestos be required.

Dlbl-l 5


READERS NOTE: This is a re-typed from a copy of the original document which was in black and white plain text.

P.S. How did I obtain these minutes?

On the 29th January 1993, South Australia’s only daily newspaper, “The Advertiser” had an article on page 4 entitled “Teacher warned for speaking out”. It named both me and the school where I was teaching. Two days later, the almost full page banner headline “Schools fail safety tests” informed the people of South Australia that their supposedly safe schools had a safety score of ZERO!  The DLI minutes were a "gift" from a very senior DLI official who wanted to get the truth out but did not want to get  sacked for whistle blowing. The “Teacher warned…” article gave that official a safer option, i.e. make sure that I received enough information to be able to obtain a copy using the infamous Freedom of Information Act, an Act which really should be called the Freedom from Information Act as it conceals far more than it ever reveals. It is worth noting that in my files, there is a letter from The Education Department denying any knowledge of this meeting that was written by a senior administrator who worked with the some of the officials named in the DLI minutes.

Note the use of the term compliance given financial constraints”. Lawyers for Asbestos victims could have a field day with everything that implies. The simple truth was that many schools should have been shut down but that did not  begin to happen until after the Liberal Party won the June ‘93 election.

If you know someone who is suffering from Mesothelioma, please make sure that you provide them with a copy of this blog.

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