Miners hit out at industrial kill laws
Summary: Queensland’s resources industry is threatening to campaign against the Palaszczuk government at the looming state election after proposed industrial manslaughter laws were extended to cover the sector.....
State cabinet yesterday approved the legislation — which includes a maximum penalty of 20 years’ jail for an individual and a $10 million fine for a firm — and which is expected to go to a vote tomorrow in parliament.
Unions have been pushing for the laws since two workers were crushed last year at a building site on Brisbane’s Eagle Farm racecourse, which was followed by the deaths of four people on a ride at Dreamworld in October.
Union sources said the CFMEU had demanded Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk secure passage of the laws this week before going to an election.
The Queensland Resources Council last night accused the government of a lack of consultation, saying it was only informed late last week of the possible extension of the laws to the sector.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane claimed the legislation — which needs the support of crossbenchers — would undermine workplace safety laws that cover resources companies.
After writing to Ms Palaszczuk last week issuing a deadline yesterday to back down, Mr Macfarlane said the sector may now launch a well-resourced public campaign against the government. Mr Macfarlane said the sector has four different sets of workplace health and safety laws and they would be undermined and complicated with the introduction of new legislation.
“Does the government want a campaign running into the election about their lowering of standards of safety in the resource industry?’’ he said.
“It conflicts with the legislation already in place, and some of that will have to be rescinded to allow this to take effect. The lack of consultation and due process will undoubtedly lead to unintended consequences and an impact on safety outcomes.’’
The resource sector’s successful $22m campaign against the Rudd government’s proposed resource super-profits tax still looms large in politics.
Katters’ Australian Party leader Robbie Katter, who represents the mining electorate of Mount Isa, said he had supported the principle of the legislation but had yet to see it. Mr Katter said the 11th-hour extension of the legislation to the resources sector would unlikely influence his decision. “I still have to get across the fine print but it’s unlikely I will go against it,’’ he said. “If it’s the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do, regardless of the industry.’’
State Development Minister Anthony Lynham confirmed the extension of the laws to the resources sector.
“It provides a deterrent to employers who are tempted to cut corners when it comes to safety in the workplace,’’ Dr Lynham said.
“Government wants the legislation to covers workers in mine, quarries, on oil and gas rigs and people working with explosives.
“Shouldn’t a mine worker have the same protections as a worker in Coles?”
Earlier this month, the state opposition said it didn’t have any problem with the industrial manslaughter offences being introduced, but it still had concerns about the legislation as written.
The opposition spokesman on resources, Andrew Cripps, said the extension was a pay-off to unions.