Professor Peto*, a visiting British academic, said that his research had demonstrated that up to 25% of all lung cancers could be attributable to exposure to asbestos. Further, that approximately 10% of all carpenters born before 1950 in both Australia and the UK will die from mesothelioma.
Confirming again that Australia and the UK lead the world in the rate of mesothelioma deaths – a cancer whose only known cause is exposure to asbestos – Professor Peto said that up to 30,000 Australians will die from asbestos related diseases in the first half of this century.
Australian Mesothelioma register
Calling the Mesothelioma Register in Australian a "goldmine", Prof. Peto said that the data the register has gathered has never been analysed.
The Register was threatened with closure in 2007 by the then-Howard federal government. Union action and lobbying saved the Register from closure. "We now call on the Rudd Labor Government to adequately resource the Register, again include occupation in the data that is collected by it and make funding available for the research that Prof. Peto suggests", said Brian Boyd, VTHC Secretary, at the time.
Victorian comp laws unfair
"We also call on the Victorian State government to change compensation laws, so that all Victorians have the same 'provisional damages' compensation rights as those in all other mainland states of Australia." All other mainland states enable a person who is diagnosed with an Asbestos Related Disease (ARD) to make a claim for 'provisional damages'. If a condition such as asbestosis them develops into the deadly mesothelioma cancer a sufferer can then make a further and final compensation claim.
* Professor Julian Peto is Chair of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and tropical Medicine; Head, Cancer Research UK Epidemiology and Genetics Unit, Institute of Cancer research and delivered the Miegunyah Public Lecture, Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne, 22 April 2008.
Last amended February 2015