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News News Anti-disease centre named after Banton


BERNIE BANTON'S fight against asbestos-related disease will live on.

A $2.5 million Bernie Banton Centre of Research Excellence into Asbestos Related Disease, and the Bernie Banton Asbestos Research Fellowship, will be created in memory of Mr Banton, who died a year ago today from mesothelioma.


Mr Banton spent the last five years of his life fighting for fair compensation for asbestos victims from the James Hardie company, a campaign he likened to being "dragged through a pit of hell by a mob of bottom feeders".

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said Mr Banton "was a determined and highly respected campaigner who never stopped fighting for justice for the Australians who contracted asbestos-related diseases.

"Mr Banton's life stands as an enduring symbol of the right of all Australians to a safe workplace."

Mr Rudd said the number of new cases of mesothelioma had increased greatly since 1982, from 156 to 597 cases in 2005. That number was expected to rise to 743 in 2010.

The disease, usually fatal, typically occurs 20 to 30 years after exposure to asbestos.

"The Centre of Research Excellence will be able to spearhead important research in this area and will contribute to the development of treatment options for asbestos-related diseases," Mr Rudd said.

The centre would be a fitting recognition of his enormous contribution and the fellowship would be part of an existing National Health and Medical Research council program, which awards fellowships to researchers of renown.

Organisations working in the area of asbestos-related diseases will be able to apply for funding to become the Centre of Research Excellence.

by Mark Metherell, Sydney Morning Herald

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