The CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland District President today supported the Parliamentary Committee’s interim findings of the Inquiry into black lung disease and said it looked forward to seeing recommendations that reflect the seriousness of the evidence.

“Queensland workers will eagerly anticipate the recommendations which flow from this report,” Mr Smyth said.

“This damning report requires a comprehensive policy and legislative response from the Government.

“The CFMEU has supported all black lung victims and led the fight for justice and a safer workplace. We look forward to being closely consulted on the recommendations and development of the policy response.

My Smyth said it was absolutely unavoidable that legal dust limits must be reduced before the next Queensland election and a monitoring and compliance regime, independent of employers, which has “real teeth”.

“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that miners are getting dust diseases because the dust levels are too high. So let’s do something about that and lower the dust limit to start with.

“This report says that mine operators have not complied with their statutory responsibilities to protect the safety and health of workers which means their role in self-monitoring and reporting dust levels must end. They voluntarily relinquished that responsibility when they stopped taking it seriously.”

He also said the 20 victims already struggling to breath could not wait until next year for a fund to be set up.

“These people are dying – we need to get agreement on establishment of a Black Lung Victims Fund to providing support to people as soon as possible this year. It should be funded by the industry as recommended by the Senate Inquiry last year.”

Mr Smyth welcomed the report’s finding that “the current workers’ compensation scheme needs modification to ensure current and former coal workers effected by respiratory symptoms are supported and encouraged to seek appropriate diagnosis and treatment, and that those diagnosed with CWP or CMDLD have easy access to comprehensive support, assistance, and treatment”.

“That is a good finding but we need clear recommendations on that which should also be legislated in 2017.

“Overall we’re pleased with the summary of evidence in the interim report but the Parliament needs to have implemented serious changes in 2017 – anything else is a failure,” said Mr Smyth.

Download a PDF of this release here