Cripps defends Queensland mine safety review

Queensland Mines Minister Andrew Cripps has defended his review of the state’s mine safety regulations, dismissing claims by the CFMEU the reforms will lead to decreased safety.

In early September the government put forward mine safety improvements, asking for industry feedback.

But the CFMEU is not satisfied with the changes and cautioned workers to be “wary” of the new changes made by the state’s Department of Mines.

Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said while they supported the additional representative, they would not back changes to their authority.

"We have world's best practice," Smyth said.

"The LNP Government keep telling us that as well and we know that for a fact, so why change something that isn't broke?

"This is the issue we have with submissions put forward so far for the changes.

"If you look at the objectives and the scope of what this is about, some of those proposals just don't fit into the scope of the objectives."

However, Cripps said the review will be thorough and will improve safety and accountability.

"There'll be no change for change's sake," he said.

"We'll be making informed decisions about what we do with our mine safety legislation.

"If harmonisation with other jurisdictions is in Queensland's best interest, then we'll pursue those changes but if not, we'll be maintaining Queensland's standards, which are internationally recognised as being as one of the best in the world."

Cripps said the review would look closely at the unions involvement in shutting down mines.

"What we have seen under existing legislation is that union officials in Brisbane can make a phone call and shut down a mine without even setting foot on the worksite and I challenge the CFMEU to be honest about those instances where union-appointed safety officials have inappropriately stopped production," he said.

Cripps said the review was aimed at ensuring that legislation protects workers.

"We're absolutely determined to ensure that Queensland's mine safety and health laws are about that, the safety and health of workers, and that they're not used as weapons in industrial relations disputes or flouted by operators who don't take them seriously enough," he said.

The improvements include an additional coal industry health and safety representative, more protection of contract workers, and regulation of alcohol, drug and fatigue management on mine sites.  

It also includes changes to health guidelines for contractors and workers, and laws to make sure the hazards of explosive dust would be alleviated with “stone dusting”.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.