New Black Lung Laws Still Need Work

Laws passed by the Queensland Parliament this week to improve worker protections against coal miners’ pneumoconiosis, or Black Lung, have not fully enacted the recommendations of the Black Lung White Lies report according to the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar.

Speaking during the Parliamentary debate on the laws, Mr Millar welcomed the reforms but pointed out that they fell short of a “best effort”.

The Black Lung White Lies report found that catastrophic failure at every level had led to the re-emergence of the disease after an absence of 30 years.

“Miners are still waiting for the Premier to come good on her commitment to establish the Mine Safety and Health Authority in Mackay, more than a year after it was promised,” said Mr Millar.

“The Authority would oversee mine safety and hygiene, conduct medical research and training, and provide medical specialists to diagnose and treat mine dust diseases.

“These are all areas that are critical to miners’ safety and these are all areas which failed catastrophically,” he said.

“There has been money for other bells and whistles – like the phone app for fat dogs – but a year after the Premier promised to establish the Mine Safety and Health Authority we see no progress at all.”

Mr Millar said he was also concerned that the new laws would not cover contractors working in mines and said he would be advocating to the Government that they continue to seek a way for this to be done.

“I am also disappointed that the amendments did not include a requirement for the senior executive on a mine site to be notified when a case of the disease is diagnosed on site.

“This could be confidential and would allow mine operators to respond quickly to ensure their safety protocols are up to standard and have not been inadvertently or systemically breached or circumvented,” he said.

Fast Facts:
• New Progressive Rehabilitation Bill is a major improvement
• Member asks for Auditor General oversight
• Mine rehabilitation could provide a new industry for CQ