Australia has lost a great hero with the passing of Bernie Banton. The fight against James Hardie Industries has been well documented, but the true legacy of Bernie Banton is the inspitation that his courage has given all Australians.
At a time when it would have been entirely understandable for Bernie to quietly battle his disease in the privacy of his own home, Bernie decided to make a stand. Bernie took up the challenge of fighting against injustice, not only for himself and his family, but for all the victims of James Hardie Industries. In a sense he was fighting for all Australians, for our belief in a fair go. And it was not an easy fight. There were dirty tricks and personal attacks thrown in Bernie’s path, but he brushed it all aside because in the end his cause was just and true. Others played their part in the battle, but it was Bernie’s personal courage that really made a difference for so many people.
It was a wonderful victory when James Hardie Industries was forced to provide proper compensation to its victims. Bernie at least had the comfort of knowing that he had won that battle. Of course, the other great battle in Bernie’s life was the battle against the disease itself, and that was a battle that sadly he could not win. We have lost a truly great Australian, but thanks to Bernie’s efforts, Australia has been left a better place.