Thousands of people are expected to honour the life and accomplishments of Bernie Banton when he is farewelled at a state funeral at Sydney's 21,000 seat Acer Arena, at Olympic Park today.
Flags will be at half mast on all NSW government buildings today to mark the passing of the campaigner, who took on corporate giant James Hardie to win compensation for asbestos disease sufferers.
NSW Premier Morris Iemma said flags will be flown at half mast in a sign of respect usually reserved for those who have held public office.
“As a mark of respect the Australian flag and the NSW State flag will be flown at half mast on all NSW government buildings and establishments all day on Wednesday,” Mr Iemma said.
Mr Banton already suffered asbestosis when he was diagnosed in August with peritoneal mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer, and died surrounded by his family in Sydney last Tuesday.
He contracted his asbestos-related diseases while working in a James Hardie factory in western Sydney for six years in the 1960s and 70s.
Of Mr Banton's 137 workmates at the plant at the time, only a handful are still alive.
Mr Banton campaigned successfully to force the company to pay compensation to thousands of Australian workers and their families.
Five days before his death, James Hardie agreed to a confidential payout to settle Mr Banton's second compensation claim against the company.
Three weeks before his death, in the middle of the federal election campaign, Mr Banton won his fight to have the expensive palliative drug Alimta subsidised by the government.
And just a day after his death, construction started on a $12 million facility to fight asbestos diseases at Sydney's Concord Hospital. It is named in his honour.
Tomorrow's funeral begins at 10.30am (AEDT).
RailCorp will put on extra train services from Lidcombe to Sydney Olympic Park between 9am (AEDT) and 2pm.