James Hardie: the name, like the company, is a lie. The real James Hardie died a long time ago and had almost no connection to the Australian asbestos empire that grew under the Reid family, killing in its wake thousands of unwitting workers and customers.
For more than 20 years, Hardie chairman John Reid oversaw a strategy that ignored the dangers of asbestos and silenced Australia’s largest asbestos union and government health authorities, concealing the nation’s biggest peacetime disaster.
Reid’s eventual successor, Meredith Hellicar, defended Hardie’s move offshore until public campaigning by asbestos disease sufferers like Bernie Banton forced the company to adequately provide for its victims.
Matt’s book, Killer Company: James Hardy Exposed, was published by ABC Books in 2009. This book inspired the ABC1 mini-series Devil’s Dust, which aired in November 2012. It tells the inside story of how Matt and asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton brought the company to account, revealing the corporate tactics which allowed Hardie to conceal what is Australia’s greatest peacetime disaster.