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Created Mon 3/09/2012, Last Updated Mon 3/09/2012

Safety deregulation will put Queensland mineworkers at risk

Weakening Queensland’s strict mine safety laws is a dangerous step for the Newman Government that could endanger the state’s mineworkers, the CFMEU

The Miners’ Union has warned the Government to ignore the rent-seeking of multinational company executives rather than attack workers labouring in one of the country’s most dangerous industries.

At their Queensland District convention last week, union delegates passed a resolution to fight any attempt from industry or government to tamper with the state’s best practice OH&S regulations, including lessening the powers of safety inspectors.

Today the Union has written to the Queensland Resources Council calling on the lobby group to cease its attacks on the state’s safety laws on behalf of mining companies.

CFMEU District President Stephen Smyth said the role of safety inspectors was vital and it was important that these inspectors have the ability to pause operations when a serious safety breach had occurred.

“The QRC’s comments calling for the Newman Government to deregulate industry safety is quite frankly ludicrous.

“Taking away the powers of safety inspectors at the coalface in favour of entrusting them to company executives in an office is dangerously naïve.”

Mr Smyth said members of Queensland’s own Mines Rescue service saw the results of lessened safety legislation firsthand when they were flown to New Zealand to assist with the Pike River disaster which claimed 29 lives, including two Australians.

“NZ PM John Key later said that Pike River could never have occurred under Australian safety legislation,” Mr Smyth said.

“After witnessing some of the Australia’s worst coalmining disasters, Queensland’s unions have fought tirelessly to enshrine world’s best practice into state law. Attacking this is an insult to those that have died or been injured in mine accidents.

“The QRC says it wants safety lowered to match legislation in New South Wales, so why doesn’t it lobby the NSW Government to boost safety there rather than attacking those protecting Queensland workers?”

Contact: Stephen Smyth 0417 897 845 / Martin Watters 0400 179 620