Nov 28, 2019

Time for talk is over, says mining union boss

Time for talk is over, says mining union boss

The threat of significant jail time is a necessary part of new industrial manslaughter legislation for the Queensland resources sector, the CFMEU says.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth was commenting after Mines and Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said the new laws would be going before Parliament next year, with penalties including up to 20 years in jail.

“Time for talking  is over,” Mr Smyth said.

“There has to be firm action taken and the government has the ability to do that and they need to do that.

“I’m sick of it. People go to work to work, they don’t go to work to die.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth .

“We will do whatever we have to do to make sure that action happens.”

The issue hit the headlines this week  following the fifth Queensland coal mining death within a year.

The minister’s office says the draft industrial manslaughter legislation for the mining industry remains out for consultation.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the QRC and the resources sector had been working constructively with the Queensland Government on the best way to implement industrial manslaughter laws, and would continue to do so.

Mr Smyth said the union had been heavily involved in the discussions over what the new legislation should look like.

He said fines alone were not enough of a deterrent for big corporations and jail terms should apply where worker deaths were caused by negligence. 

“There should be no concerns for people working in the industry if you are doing the right thing,” he said.

One area the union had pushed for was to ensure the legislation covered not only all levels of the workforce on site, but corporate roles off site – including people taking activities like staff in BHP’s IROC (integrated remote operations centre), he said.

“They can’t be excluded. Nobody should be excised out of it,” Mr Smyth said.

“It should apply to everyone who works in and around mining.”

The union is also pushing for change regarding statutory safety positions in coal mines – the open cut examiners and deputies.

It argues the people in these roles should be employed by the mine operator and their prime focus must be safety rather than production. The CFMEU says should not be contract or labour hire roles.

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