Black Lung victims throughout Queensland will have their say as the public hearings for the State’s Parliamentary Inquiry into Black Lung disease commence in regional Queensland this week.

The committee will visit mining communities in Collinsville, Moranbah, Dysart, Middlemount and Mackay.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland District President, Stephen Smyth, said the inquiry would allow victims and experts to speak in an open public forum and get all the issues out in the open.

“The inquiry will give current and retired miners the chance to have their say about this terrible disease.  It is an opportunity for us to come together as a community to solve this problem and protect the health of current and future generations of coal miners.

“We’ve already had 16 officially confirmed victims diagnosed, but we know the number of real victims is at least 30 and our members are concerned right across the State.

“We know the dust levels are too high with some mines operating way above even the legal limit. This is completely unacceptable. Queensland’s coal miners deserve the safest possible conditions at work and if mining companies are not properly managing dust levels, the government must address this as an urgent priority.

“We also need to make sure all victims have the support they need to live the most comfortable life possible under the horrific circumstances many of them face.”

Mr Smyth said the Black Lung Victims Support Group would continue to campaign for immediate action to deliver an industry-funded 10c per tonne levy on all coal mined in Queensland to support victims.

“Innocent victims are suffering from this disease because of mining companies and government regulators failing to ensure a safe workplace over many decades. It’s not fair and the system needs to better support victims.

“This is not the responsibility of Queensland taxpayers – mining companies cannot be let off the hook for a deadly disease that was caused by their own negligence. A 10 cent levy on coal is the least these mining giants should pay to help alleviate the pain and suffering they have caused,” Mr Smyth said.

The Union is also calling for greater action to address dust levels in all coalmines and keep dust levels below legal limits.

“We are seeking urgent intervention because we need to do more now rather than later.  We urge the Queensland Government to reduce legal dust levels in Queensland to at least 2.5mg per cubic metre.

“The current legal dust exposure limits in Queensland are too high and are not being properly monitored to prevent excess dust exposure.  Mining companies have allowed dust levels to spike well above these legal limits with no regard for the health of the miners.

“These operations must immediately start using more effective dust monitoring and control methods to reduce this deadly health risk and comply with legal permissible levels.

“We want Queensland to get world’s best practice regulation and oversight of the disease.

The hearings will run in regional Queensland from Monday 21 November to Friday 25 November.

Regional hearing dates and times

Location  Date  TIME 
Collinsville Collinsville Workers’ Club Monday 21 November 12.30pm – 3.00pm
Moranbah Moranbah Workers Club Tuesday 22 November 6.30pm – 9.00pm
Moranbah Moranbah Workers’ Club Wednesday 23 November 6.00am – 10.00am
Dysart Dysart Civic Centre Wednesday 23 November 12.30pm – 2.00pm
Middlemount Middlemount Bowls Club Wednesday 23 November 4.30pm – 7.00pm
Middlemount Middlemount Bowls Club Thursday 24 November 7.00am – 10.00am
Mackay Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre (MACC) Friday 25 November