The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on February 8, 1984 · Page 3
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia · Page 3

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Issue Date:
Wednesday, February 8, 1984
Page 3
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Page 3 I av T ' I Jt The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday, February 8, 1984 ( t i i t i 1 1 500. itfmies asbestos, .. . . . inqrary told Asbestos dust levels were about 500 times higher than ; . accepted levels in some parts of the Baryulgu mine, a Fed-eral parliamentary committee was told yesterday. Mr Gerald Burke. 56, the former 3 manager of the mine owned by j, : James Hardie Industries until 1976. " said the dust levels were about 2.000 fibres per cubic centimetre t compared with the World Health t Organisation s recommendation ot four fibres per cubic centimetre. . Mr Burke worked at the mine for ' 21 vears. 13 of them as manager, " " and lived 150 metres from it. He was mnc evidence at Graf- " ton, in the north of NSW. to the Mouse ui Kcpmcuuuvcs aianuiiig " Committee on Aboriginal Affairs which is inquiring into the effects of asbestos mining on the Baryul- community, about 80 kilometres north-west or oration. After hearing part of Mr Burke s -, evidence, the committee's chairman Mr Gerry Hand (Lab, Vic), said he . had received a written request from James Hardie Industries solicitor that Mr Burke's evidence be heard in camera as it went to issues which might be considered sub-judice. But the committee had decided that the request be refused, said Mr Hand. . , '. 4 . ' . Mr Burke, now an invalid pensioner, is engaged in a civil case for compensation .- against Asbestos Mines Limited. a- subsidiary of James Hardie' Industries. Mr Burke told the committee "-the plant would have had to be closed every hour to have ettective-t ly cleared it of dust but this could not have been done because of the . effect on production. Mr Burke said he became aware of the hazards of asbestos after seeing newspaper reports in 1969. He said he discussed with the management putting in a complete new- anti-dust system. But the quoted figure of S7O.0O0-S80.00O was too high to be considered by the company's pollution committee. . The asbestos dust caused a "terrible irritant effect" when inhal- ;"ed, said Mr Burke. "It coated your throat. You were gagging and Coughing. It would give a burning sensation as if you had swallowed - .chilli or something." ' "Mr Burke said if the area where the r asbestos was Put into hessian togs had been redesigned, it would have solved the dust problem, but - thiv would have cost a considerable amount of money. "If money had been spent at the beginniy! of the mine, there would have bees no problem." he said. From his own estimates everybody who worked in the mill would have had an average exposure of 18 asbestos fibres: per cubic centimetre. To his knowledge no pamphlet setting out the hazards of asbestos had ever been given to "employees by Woodsreef Mines Limited, which took over the mine in 1976. Mr Burke said he had the idea the mine was to be kept marginal to give the operation a long life -so that James Hardie Industries' could have a person on the Tariff . Board to give input into the price ' of asbestos. When Woodsreef bought the mine in 1976, the dust levels doubled because they pur twice as much ore through the mill as before, he said. From 1969. medical tests were done on employees but the results were not shown to them and he had no idea where the records were now. Mr Burke said the Australian Workers Union, to which most of the workers belonged, took little interest in them except to collect dues. Mr William Hindle. a maintenance engineer at the mine between 1954 and 1979, said that management was notified of Mines Department inspections about two days before they were carried out. Production would then be slowed down so there would be less dust around. He said he now suffered from chest probems and he remembered one man who. in 1954. after having a lung removed, returned to work' at the mine. He was given a job but lost his rights . to long-service leavq, . Mr Hindle said. He added that doctors in the area did not want to get involved "you go to a doctor around here and mention the word 'asbestos' and they shudder." Mr Charles Sheather. a mill production foreman at the mine between 1969 and 1982, said his doctor told him to "give it away or it will give you away." But he said he saw no reason to tell his fellow workers and thought it would be pointless to talk to the management about it. "I'm sure James Hardie would have been aware of the hazards of asbestos mining wav back to the early fifties." said Mr Sheather. An Anglican minister, the Rev Colin Steep, who worked in the area between 1965 and 1970. said he believer ames Hardie had the welfare of the Aborigines at heart. T believe nobodv at the mine . . . realised that contained in the dust were the asbestos particles that are insoluble." said Mr Steep. Mr Graham Campbell (Lab. WA), Mr Russell Gorman (Lab. NSW) and Mr Lloyd O'Neil (Lab. SA) joined the three other members at the hearing yesterday. Two members of the committee have not been present. The inquiry will hear evidence in Sydney tomorrow and -on Friday. 'Within a couple of weeks we were on two cans a day' - ixv " - i . mm 1 Ir?1 " I don't think things kids can sniff should be sold at all," 15-year-old Anne said yesterday as she talked about her previous abuse jof lighter fluids. -'. Anne, now living in a refuge for young people in western Sydney, said she had started -Viiffing lighter fluid when; she was only 12. , "I had a go of Liquid Paper (correction fhiid) but it didn't give me a good . hit so I asked my friend if he wanted to try lighter fluid. "It was the only thing I could get that was cheap and still work I, could buy it for 95 cents a can." . The young couple bought their first can from a local store and shared its contents. "We started on one can a day between mc and him," she said, adding that they quickly found that the "buzz" was not enough. "Within a couple of weeks we were on two cans a day but then the buzz still only lasted a few seconds. It wasn't long before we were sharing three cans a day." Anne said she knew sniffing the fluid was dangerous but didn't care. "I was depressed. I wasn't doing good at school and I didn't care what happened to me." She said she had no problem buying lighter -fluid. "I circulated from shop to shop to buy the cans so no-one got suspicious. I looked 17 and always carried an older friend's birth certificate, just in case someone wanted proof of my age. "No one ever did ask me what I wanted the lighter fluid for but if they had I would have told them I had to fill my mother's lighter." Anne said she gave up sniffing after three people she knew died while sniffing solvent pro ducts. Her boyfriend is now' addicted to bard drugs. "After sniffing (he lighter fluid I began blanking out in the middle of the day. Three or four months after I had,: stopped, sniffing I was still blanking out," Anne said. She began wagging school in fear that someone would discover her fainting spells and find out she had been sniffing. She forged her mother's signature on notes to the school explaining her absence. "I eventually .'decided to tell my parents what I bad been doing. They sat me down and talked to me for what seemed like three days." Anne said she now realised that what she had been doing had been "pretty stupid" and believed the only way sniffing solvents could be controlled would be through a complete ban on their sale. Graham, a 22-year-old former drug user now working at a Sydney rehabilitation centre, said he began drinking cough mixtures at the age of 14. "I would drink a 200ml bottle every day to get high. I bought them over the counter from chemists and no one would ask any questions. "Eventually the manufacturers put an additive into the mixture to make you sick if you drank too much but I just put up with being sick." Graham said the cough mixture, which was cheap and easily available, made him feel good when he was on a high and helped him cope w ith his problems. "I started going to a doctor for my problems and he prescribed mc tranquillisers I ended up getting hooked on them,' he said. The sniffers: they could find death in any shopping centre Anne .holds a can of lighter fluid which she used to sniff. The other products frequently abused include correction . fluid, fly .spray, paint stripper, cough medicine and car sickness pills. Convulsions and. coma can be the cost of a quick high By MARGARET RICE, Medical Reporter The dangerous substance in Liquid Paper and similar products is trichloroethanc, which acts as a thinner. It is one of the milder of the chlorinated hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons and other volatile substances, such as fluorocarbons. keep panicles light Mand allow them to spread. They are normally innocuous unless inhaled in large quantities, when they can cause hallucinations. Intoxication after inhaling these substances can seem like alcoholic intoxication, but the inhaler can also suffer :headachef . ringing in" the ears and a. burning sensation in the lungs and throat. If the -product inhaled is a distillate of aromatic (sweet smelling) hydrocarbons the inhaler will also have twitching muscles, tremors and hyperactive reflexes. Any of these volatile substances can also cause convulsions and coma if enough is inhaled. Death can result from lack of oxygen or heart failure caused by the Severe breathing problems which happen almost immediately the oxygen supply is cut off. One respiratory physician yesterday said that some adolescents find it is an inexpensive but more dangerous way of getting a hallucination, similar to that caused bv LSD. : : He said that if a plastic bag is held ocr the head to help contain the fumes this will increase the effect and the intoxication. As intoxication increases the inhaler loses ' judgment. He said there is no evidence that il is : habit forming in a physical way although ) it could be psychologically addictive. Another doctur said that if the sniffer repeatedly inhales from a plastic bag. this ' increases the risk of death from lack of oxygen, since the inhaler is breathinc in his or her own exhaled carbon dioxide and not getting a fresh supply of oxygen. By RICHARD MACEY "Every shopping centre is a potential outlet for these drugs." a former addict said yesterday as he listed the dangerous products frequently abused by schoolchildren. Many ordinary shopping items could be abused by people wanting to sniff their way to a high, he said. .... Hardware stores stock paint-thinners. newsagents 'sell model glue and correction fluids and supermarkets offer aerosol sprays and lighter fluids. Service stations, of course, sell petrol and for those not into sniffing there are cough mixtures and car-sick pills available from chemist shops. Drug authorities warned yesterday that many products were being abused by an increasing number of schoolchildren who could buy the oods over the counter with few, if any. questions asked. Meanwhile, the State Government has announced plans under .the Poisons Act to restrict the sale of some of the most dangerous sprays being sniffed by children. From March 1 all muscle-relaxant sprays containing fluorocarbons and chlorocarbons will be on the Schedule 3 list, meaning they can only be sold in chemist shops. . Advertising for the products will be banned and the sprays will have to be stored somewhere not on view to the public. ' "The pharmacist will have to see every customer to determine if the spray is needed," the Ileallh Department's chief pharmacist, Mr Barry Mcwcs. said yesterday. The products will also have to carry a notice saying: "Warning. Do not deliberately sniff this product. Sniffing may harm or kill you."' Similar warning notices will also have to be placed 'on lighter fluids and correction fluids. Mr Mcwes said other products could be added lo'the list covered by) the: new regulations a an inter-departmental committee continues its examination of the sniffing problem. Mr Rex Mitchell, a" spokesman for Liquid Paper, a correction fluid, said his- company had already added an ingredient to its thinners to discourage sniffing. The company hopes the additive, designed to make sniffers sick before they can inhale too much, could soon be added to the correction fluid. Mr Mitchell said a water-based product which did not use the usual solvents had already been developed but it was not as popular in the market place. A spokesman for Unilever. Mr Peter Dun-stan. said manufacturers in the aerosol spray industry had agreed to co-operale to find a solution to the sniffing problem.-, "A whole range of areas, including warning labels-, education programs and ingredient changes are being considered.'' he said. A spokesman for the pharmaceutical company Smith Kline and French said his company had voluntarily put one of its products, a muscle relaxant spray, on the Schedule 3 list last year after unsuccessfully searching for a suitable ingredient that would make abusers sick. "The ingredient which would work to make the product offensive to sniffers turned out to be more toxic than what we were Irving to counter." he added. Mr Joe Lamberti. the Victorian State director for the Odyssey House rehabilitation centre, said sniffing solvents-, contained in many products from model glue to correction fluid, had become a very serious problem among children aged from nine to 16. , "They have the naive attitude that because the solvents arc not physically addictive, they are safe. But they are not. " be said. "They are wry daneerous and can cause brain dnmage. heart attacks- and even death. Mr Paul -Hawkins, a worker with a Sydney rehabilitation group, said sniffing aerosol sprays and model glue had become very common in Sydney. . "A few years, ago kids would want to buy marijuana and barbiturates but' today most kids can't afford these as tighter controls have reduced the supply and pushed up the prices. Mrs Zcna Shedden. manager of the Black-; town Youth Crisis Centre, said she doubted whether introducing strict controls on the sale of dangerous products to minors would work. Robert Hughes . . . shocked. 25 years late, but it's here By ISABEL LUKAS Satin, silks, chic scents, an outrageously eloquent Robert Hughes and gallery crashers in halite couture, made an event of last night's opening of the Guggenheim exhibition in Sydney. Although the NSW Art Gallery invited 450 guests, about 600 turned up for the first showing abroad of SO works valued at S65 million from the Guggenheim Museum in New-York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Picasso. Matisse. Chagall. Miro. Modigliani. Bacon, Mondrian. Braque. Dali. Kandinski and many more are represented. Hughes. Time magazine art critic, told the invited and uninvited that the show had arrived in Sydney almost 25 years too late. "This is "the stuff I lett Australia to see 20 years ago." he explained in his official address. "In those remote days, when I was still training for the job of aging enfant terrible, the kind of work the Guggenheim Museum and the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation have lent seemed like the most daring, the most speculative, the least codified kind of adventure in consciousness you could think of. "The work had not turned into blue chips: it had not been shrouded in the weary feeling of resentment and repetition and hype that one gets from being told, -once more, about the million-dollar masterpiece; it had not been detached from experience, insulated and fctished." Hughes said that because so feu-people in Australia had been interested in such art. it had assumed "a mystic status"' and he had found it a great shock to see it actually hanging on the walls of private collectors, like the works of Pro Hart. "I did not realise how few people outside Australia had wanted il either. i ! . 'This was brought home to me when I first .visited Peggv Guggenheim in Venice." He was intrigued to know how-she had acquired it all. "Finally. I plucked up courage. Hovy had she done it? "And Peagy glared at me down her nose, that famous nose second onlv to Pierpont Morgan's, and said: 'The secret, kid. is that vou have to be nuts about what everyone else in vour family thinks is crap. " Wife strangled "for nagging, police allege A 70-year-old pensioner strangled his wife because she would not stop nagging him, Glebe Coroners Court heard yesterday. s5 jTJie body of. the 6&year-old woman was und in her bed with an electrical cord around her neck, the court heard. After the killing the pensioner. John Hoare TCarden. had allegedly told his sister: "I have Ipin blamed and "abused for everything -. ; . Vcaluld not do anything right . . . I just cfculd not take it anymore." Carden, of Raymond Street. Neutral Bay. appeared before Mrs Margaret Sleeman. charged with ; murdering his wife Patricia Anne Carden on January 5 at Neutral Bay. ; He pleaded not guilty. ; Giving evidence at the hearing yesterday. Senior Constable Larry Stephens said he went t9 flat at Neutral Bay .'and saw the body of a- woman lying on a bed with an electric , jug -cord wound around her neck. j-fe said he -went outside the flat and saw Carden, who -allegedly said: "It is me you want ... I have killed her." - Constable Stephens said Carden had told him: "She would not stop nagging me all the time." ' Mrs Mary Murray, of Telopea. the defendant's sister, said her brother rang her on January 5 and said he had killed his wife. -When Mrs Murray asked if they had an argument. Carden had allegedly replied: "It is an argument that has been going on for years." i States' veto will ., cripple national crimes authority, Costigan says MELBOURNE. A national crimes authority would have difficulty functioning under the powers presently proposed by the Federal Parliament, the Royal Commissioner into the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers" Union, Mr Frank Costigan, QC, told a Senate inquiry yesterday. Mr Costigan said that right of a State to veto investigations' by the. proposed authority, coupled with the retention of" the right of a witness before ,.it to . remain silent -'-would seriously erode the effectiveness of such a body. . .; In addition, he said,,' the "protection of legal and . professional privilege would prevent the authority from gaining access to. documents vital to the investigation of organised crime in Australia. ' Mr Costigan was giving evidence, before the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on the' second day of public hearings of its inquiry into setting up a national crimes authority. ' The committee is examining whether ' the, . National ' Crimes Authority Bill 1983 and the National Crimes Authority Consequential Amendments Bill 1983 "fulfil effectively the objective of . investigating ' organised crime and V -offiaal corruption."'.. . . ' -" Before permitting "himself to be questioned by members of the committee. Mr Costigan advised the committee that he was attending with the permission of both the Prime Minister and the Premier of Victoria and that there were. -i certain - "matters on which ' they '" would .expect ,mc to exercise my judgment.? " H';.-;The Royal Commissioner waded ''patiently . through three hours ' of ; . questioning from the seven mem-' bers of the committee present, . headed by Senator ? Michael Tate -' (Lab, Tas). .- ',. - Organised crime was not some-'' ' thing that the establishment of a crimes authority could hope to - ' wipe out. Mr Costigan told the committee. "You can only contain it," he said. "You will never stop it." All that could be done was to make it more difficult for large- "scale criminal operations to exist -successful ly and increase r '-the i likelihood -of prosecution.. V On the subject of a Stale's right ;'. tor'.'yeto an investigation ' by the ' proposed . authority. Mr '. Costigan said- that he regarded that power ' as "a fatal flaw in the operation of the .authority". """.:' The danger, he said. . was that a State might use the veto, with--. out. fully realising the consequences of the investigaton which-it had. stifled, in the belief that the matter "" could, be better, handled by its own - law enforcement bodies. .- . 1 ' The best example of this possibility ' had been the assertion in ' "1980 that ' circumstances . surround- ing the activities of the painters and dockers in Victoria were well within the investigative scope of the Victoria Police Force. Mr Costigan said that while he in no way wished to denigrate the Victoria Police, "they were wrong and they are the first to admit it'". That sort of honest error, he said, could occur regularly. The veto was thereby a "devastating restriction on the power" of any proposed authority. ' Mr Costigan told the committee that the authority would also -need ' to have access to documents in the hands of solicitors, accountants and. banks similar to the power held by his own Royal Commission. The success of the Painters and Dockers' Commission in unearthing the bottom-of-the-harbour tax schemes had in -large part been due to its power to obtain documents trom these sources, he said. "There is no way that a person carrying out an investigation within . the limits of the (national crimes authOi-'y) bill would have achieved the same results."' he said. ' r Questioned by Senator Chipp (Dem, Vic), a member of the1 committee, on the extent of organised crime in Australia, Mr Costigan said it was difficult to accurately estimate its extent in dollar terms. However, he did pose a figure of between $5 billion and $10 billion, annually. There was no doubt at all, he said, that a large amount of money flowed into the importation of heroin into Australia. FOR LEASE stylish niid-city Showroom -O & curt! Il hi X 9i III s jTI 31 I Fully Air-conditioned Carpeted Spaces Superb showrooms which might appeal to . 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Applications in writing are invited for appointment to the following position with the Electricity Commission of New South Wales. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY C0-0RD1NAT0R Salary $30,871 to $33,131 per annum ' ! " Qualifications and Experience: Essential Tertiary qualifications with a major in Social Science or other relevant discipline; thorough knowledge of Equal .Employment- Opportunity issues, high level administrative and communicative ability; counselling and arbitrating skills; and the ability to develop and oversee implementation of policies. Desirable Knowledge of. or experience in. Personnel administration and practices. Duties: The appointee' will be responsible to the Director of Affirmative Action for the implementation of the Commission's Equal Employment Opportunity Management Plan. In carrying out these duties the successful applicant will be responsible for the administration of and the development of programs relating to Equal Employment Opportunity, supervision and direction of various support staff and liaison with people at all levels throughout the organisation. Applications will close on February 17, 1984. and should be forwarded to: Personnel Officer Electricity Commission of New South Wales G.P.0. Box 5257 Sydney, N.S.W. 2001 Verbal inquiries may be directed to Mr S. Graham, Assistant Staff Inspector, telephone (02) 268 8060.

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