The campaigner who won financial aid for victims of "Mr Fluffy" asbestos cancer has died in Canberra.
James Wallner was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in July last year. He died at Clare Holland House hospice on Friday.
He had grown up in a home in Canberra filled with asbestos sold by a company called Mr Fluffy. Earlier this month - days before Mr Wallner died - the federal and ACT governments agreed to set up a fund for victims.
Mr Wallner's brother, Bruce, paid this tribute: "James became the human face of what the real consequence was of allowing Mr Fluffy to pump asbestos into homes from 1968 until 1979.
"The issue has been dominated by the debates about real estate, bungled clean ups and indignation about government high-handedness in buying back the polluted homes.
"James put the real issue into the spotlight - the human health aspect and the fact that people are dying because of it."
Mr Wallner also campaigned successfully for better advice and non-financial help for victims of the asbestos-generated cancer, and his brother felt that was important: "His legacy is not simply about the creation of a fund to treat the disease and support and compensate those affected, it is that in future there will be an established pathway for people like James."
When James Wallner was diagnosed with the fatal illness at the age of 53, he became a relentless - and ultimately successful - campaigner.
"His world was irrevocably changed," his brother said. "Dozens of futile phone call were made over weeks to every ACT and Commonwealth government agency and body to try to find out how to navigate this new world of a lethal disease that is enormously expensive to treat.
"It was nobody's job, responsibility denied by all, due to fears of legal liability and creating a precedent. This added stress and anxiety to the mix of grief, confusion and sense of injustice.
"Hopefully for those that follow James, this is no more."
About a thousand Canberra homes were treated with the same substance in the decade from 1978. At least four other men are thought to have died from disease after living in Mr Fluffy homes.
Mr Wallner argued that the dangers of asbestos were known by the Commonwealth government from 1968 but the stuff was still on sale. His childhood home was insulated two years later.
When Mr Wallner was diagnosed with mesothelioma 10 months ago, there was no scheme to compensate those who had contracted the illness at their homes. There was industrial compensation for workers in the asbestos industry but not for those who had contracted it outside workplaces.
Earlier this month, federal health minister Greg Hunt said that a fund to help cover medical expenses would be established. It is to be administered by the ACT Government which agreed to match the federal contribution.
Last year, the ACT government agreed to award Mr Wallner $250,000 to cover his medical costs. The first half of that amount was paid but the second half was to be paid a year later. Mr Wallner died ten months after diagnosis, before the second sum became payable.
In 2014, the ACT government announced it would spend a billion dollars buying back and bulldozing the affected homes.
"It is very sad to hear about James Wallner's passing and on behalf of the ACT Government I express our deepest sympathy to the Wallner family," Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said: "Mr Wallner was a passionate advocate for all those impacted by Mr Fluffy homes and those suffering from mesothelioma.
"Our Government worked closely with the ACT Government in relation to this issue and thanks to the advocacy work of Mr Wallner and others, we were able to work together to get this solution. He leaves behind an important and everlasting legacy."
Mr Wallner is survived by his wife Linda and their two sons, Max and Charlie.
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