Heat on government over drop in mine inspections
The answer to an Opposition question-on-notice released this week shows that the number of inspections fell year-on-year from 1781 in 2015/16 to 1241 in 2017/18.
However Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the focus had shifted to more in-depth mine audits rather than traditional inspections.
The row follows six deaths in Queensland mines and quarries in the last 12 months.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington said Labor’s cuts were putting mineworkers in danger.
“There can be no justification for the massive reduction in mining inspections implemented by Labor,” she said.
“The mining safety regime in Queensland is now clearly in crisis.”
Dr Lynham said the health and safety of the state’s 49,000 mine and quarry workers was paramount for the Palaszczuk Government.
“As the independent Mine Health and Safety Commissioner noted in her 2017/18 report, inspectors are now placing more emphasis on mine audits compared to traditional inspections,” he said.
“An inspection might take one or two inspectors a day: an audit is a more in-depth analysis and takes a team of inspectors several days.
“However, let me emphasize: safety is an issue for everyone on every worksite and across the industry.”
He said mine health and safety laws had been reformed in the past year, giving inspectors new powers and increasing maximum fines.
“More funding of $1.68 million has been allocated in the Budget for more mines inspectors. Three new mines inspectors will be appointed, as well as another Chief Inspector,” Dr Lynham said.
“Last week the Minister obtained a commitment from mining and quarrying chiefs for a safety reset for all of their workers and to work together with government on further safety reforms.”
Opposition spokesman for Natural Resources Dale Last said only an open and independent inquiry could provide the answers and path forward that the industry neededs.
“If these reductions (in mine inspections) are due to cost-cutting then we need to get to the bottom of it and do the right thing by the hard-working men and women in the resources industry,” he said.