20 November 2005


Revealed: The amazing story of a gutsy 29 year old hotel worker who survived a horrific passive-smoking cancer, won his landmark case by risking everything- after refusing to be gagged by the insurer.


·      Plea by cancer survivor, his surgeon and Australia ’s leading anti-tobacco advocate for pubs to go smoke free without further delay.


In 1998 then 21 year old Phil Edge began working as a “bar and gaming room attendant” at southern suburbs pub Mick O’Shea’s. A non-smoker, Phil was continuously subjected to the tobacco smoke of others, especially in the pokies room were he noticed it was particularly concentrated.

By June 2001 Phil had been diagnosed with tongue cancer, with secondaries in his lymph nodes. A 12 hour operation on the 4th July 2001 involved half his tongue being removed, and radical surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes, followed by over 6 weeks of radiotherapy and a 2 year recovery period.

Phil’s landmark case against the insurer has only recently been won, following 3 year of outright denial of his claim by SA’s WorkCover Corporation. His trial before the SA Workers Compensation tribunal commenced on the 18th July 2005 , with damning evidence (against the insurer) given on the 19th July by his treating ENT surgeon. Following that evidence the insurer sought an adjournment and initially offered a lump sum to  get rid of all its future liabilities to Phil, which he rejected. The insurer then offered to accept his claim on the basis that Phil signed a confidentiality agreement, which Phil refused, and by doing so risked losing his case by the trial proceeding.

On Friday the 7th October (the trial was due to resume the following Monday) WorkCover caved in and caved in on its demand for the confidentiality agreement. On the 10th October Auxiliary Justice Olsson made orders accepting Phil’s claim, including arrears of wages and medical expenses.

Pokies venues in SA and the Casino aren’t due to be smoke-free until 31st October 2007- reflecting the power of the hotel and gambling lobby and that pokies turnover and taxes are expected to fall by up to 15 per cent as a result.

No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon, who was contacted by Mr. Edge after he won his case said:

“This young man has shown incredible courage and principle by refusing to be gagged - despite tremendous legal risks - so he can tell his story in the hope it will help others. If only politicians in SA and around the country had just half of his courage and principle and did the right thing to implement smoking bans in pokies venues and pubs without further delay.”


Written and authorised by Nick Xenophon, 653 Lower North East Road, Paradise, SA 5075