Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham
Queensland Government Commits To Parliamentary Black Lung Inquiry
Victor P Taffa
Parliament tonight supported the Palaszczuk Government’s move to establish a Parliamentary inquiry into the re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis in Queensland.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr. Anthony Lynham said he was responding to stakeholder input.
“Labor was elected on a platform of honesty, accountability and a willingness to listen.” Dr. Lynham said.
“I have listened to the workers, to the industry, to the doctors, to my departmental advisors and independent experts.”
“A focussed Parliamentary select committee will provide the scrutiny Queenslanders expect of an open and transparent Palaszczuk Government, without distracting from the immediate priority: fixing the issue.”
Dr. Lynham said the select committee inquiry would be established within 30 days. The select committee will have the standard powers of a Parliamentary committee to hear evidence, call witnesses, order documents to be provided and will report back to the Parliament.
“My first priority continues to be the concerted action underway now to tackle this insidious disease.” Dr. Lynham said.
“A Parliamentary select committee inquiry can only further inform our efforts to protect the health and safety of our 5,500 underground coal workers.”
Dr. Lynham said progress continued on tackling the re-emergence of the disease in line with the three-pronged approach he announced with doctors, employers and union last month.
“Together we are focussing on prevention through dust management, early detection through better screening, and a safety net through workers’ compensation.”
“Underground coal miners now have a screening guarantee, new chest X-rays, or re-reading, of x-rays that are less than two years old.”
“We have a new double-checking procedure, where x-rays are read by an Australian radiologist to ILO standard and, as an interim measure, then by a US-based reader. The first 30 x-rays to be read under this system have already been digitally transferred to the US.” Dr. Lynham said.
“Current and past miners who visit their GP with concerns can be confident that their GP has received detailed information from Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer alerting them to the re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.”
“Intensive training is being developed for the medical practitioners who conduct the health assessments of coal miners under the health scheme.”
“Miners’ medical data will be captured and stored digitally. It is proposed that employers will be compulsorily required to report cases to government.” Dr. Lynham said.
“Tomorrow I will raise at the COAG (Council of Australian Governments) Energy Council meeting in Canberra that this is a national issue with national implications.”
“As always, I urge any coal mine worker who has concerns about their health to talk to their general practitioner.” Dr. Lynham said.