Mining bosses could be thrown in jail for up to 20 years
LEGISLATION to create the offence of industrial manslaughter in the resources sector has been introduced into Queensland Parliament.
Under the proposed laws, mining bosses could be thrown in jail for up to 20 years if found negligent while companies could be slugged with a maximum fine of $13 million.
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham today said the legislation would bring resources workplaces in line with all other Queensland workplaces.
"Queensland already has the toughest mine safety and health laws in the world," he said.
"These laws will give our 50,000 mine and quarry workers the same protections as other Queensland workers."
Dr Lynham told Parliament there had been extensive consultation with the Queensland Resources Council, mining companies and unions.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the council would examine the Bill in further detail.
"QRC accepts the introduction of industrial manslaughter as an offence in the resources sector," Mr Macfarlane said.
"However, QRC is concerned the current proposed legislation unintentionally weakens the mine safety reforms introduced two decades ago following the Moura 2 Mine tragedy that claimed 11 lives on August 7, 1994.
"QRC believes it is critical the reforms developed in the wake of that tragedy remain in force and are built upon."
He said QRC would continue to work with the government and unions to improve safety in the sector.
CFMEU mining and energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth welcomed the State Government's move.
"Over the past year, we have all been shocked and saddened by the deaths that have occurred in our industry," Mr Smyth said.
"The Union has advocated strongly for industrial manslaughter laws in mining and we'll continue to fight to improve safety in our industry."
The Bill also included a raft of measures to ensure taxpayers do not foot the bill for the rehabilitation of abandoned mines.
The reforms included:
- More powers for government to scrutinise the financial capabilities of a resource authority holder when a mine changes hands;
- Enhanced scrutiny of mines that go into care and maintenance, in particular by requiring mineral mining lease holders to provide development plans;
- Broader powers for remediating abandoned mines, and where possible, commercialise these sites; and
- Clear criteria to assess the suitability of companies and people to hold resource tenures, and exclude unsuitable applicants.
Dr Lynham said proposed energy legislation changes would also place a permanent ban on unfair fees and charges for electricity users.