September 4, 2019
An independent body is being set up by the State Government to protect the safety and health of Queensland’s 70,000-plus miners.
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham introduced legislation into Parliament on Wednesday to establish an independent safety and health regulator statutory body to be known as “Resources Safety and Health Queensland” (RSHQ).
The new body will be funded by a levy on resources companies.
It will take over the safety and health functions currently within the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy as well as the already-independent mining inspectorate.
“This separates the job of protecting the workers from the job of growing and facilitating mining and exploration projects and the resources sector as a whole,” Dr Lynham said.
Under the new legislation, RSHQ will:
- Include Queensland’s mines, explosives and petroleum and gas inspectors, the Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station at Redbank near Ipswich and the coal mine workers’ health scheme that covers mine dust lung diseases, including black lung
- Report directly to the Minister instead of through a department
- Be subject to monitoring and review by a separate, independent commissioner for mining and quarrying, petroleum and gas, and explosives.
The establishment of the independent body follows recommendations from the Parliamentary Select Committee into coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.
The committee made 68 recommendations, all of which the government supported or supported in principle.
The latest Bill introduced represents the third package of reforms to mining safety and health during the past three years.
Last year, the regulator was given powers to issue fines without going to court for mine safety and health breaches, and maximum court penalties were increased to $4 million.
Dr Lynham said the re-identification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and the six recent mining and quarrying fatalities highlighted the importance of a transparent, independent safety and health body.
“Queenslanders want to see a strong regulator, fully independent and at arms-length from the industry it is regulating,” he said.