Deb Frecklington has announced she will move for an independent Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate mining safety in light of the spate of recent deaths.
Deb Frecklington has announced she will move for an independent Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate mining safety in light of the spate of recent deaths. Liam Kidston

'Action needs to be taken': Deb demands mine investigation

FOUR deaths in Queensland mining accidents this year have led to calls for an investigation into mine safety.

Blackbutt's David Routledge, 55, is among the dead, killed in an accident in Middlemount on June 26.

The 55-year-old, who was described as a "hero dad” by his son Anthony Routledge, was trapped in a digger after a high wall collapse at the coal mine.

Another mine worker, Jack Gerdes, was killed on Sunday at the Baralaba North Coal Mine in Central Queensland.

The 27-year-old had been working at the coal mine since December 2018, and died after suffering fatal injuries to his head, face, and limbs.

Investigations are ongoing, however it is believed he got caught between the excavator and the safety rails of the stairs.

In response to the deaths, Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington has announced she will move for an independent Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate mining safety.

"This committee needs to be set up as soon as possible,” Ms Frecklington said.

"One death is way too many but to have four in six months means action needs to be taken.

"We need to establish a parliamentary inquiry into the effectiveness of the Queensland Government's mine safety regime.”

Ms Frecklington said an advisory committee on mining safety had been dissolved last year because the board didn't have the right gender requirements.

"That needs to be investigated along with reports the mines' budget has been cut, and why we have gone from two chief inspectors to one,” she said.

"It's crucial Queensland learns lessons from these tragedies to ensure our mines are safe.

"It is critical this is a truly bipartisan committee with three members of the government, three LNP members and a member of the crossbench.”

Shadow Minister for Mines Dale Last said the committee should visit mining communities as part of their role.

"This committee should travel to mining communities and hear first-hand from those at the coal face,” Mr Last said.

"We need to hear the stories of regional Queenslanders employed in the coal mining industry and their views about the health and safety systems in Queensland. 

"Everyone should come home safely from their place of work.” 

The proposed committee will be asked to consider the following: 

  • Resourcing and operations of the mine safety inspectorate, including the inspectors in regional Queensland.
  • Review the legislative framework to ensure it is the most effective in the world to protect mine workers.
  • Investigate why the Mining Safety Advisory Committee was dissolved due to the government's policy about gender representation and what impact this has had on Queensland mine safety.
  • The circumstances that have led to six fatalities in Queensland mines in the last six months.
  • The stories of regional Queenslanders employed in the coal mining industry and their views about the health and safety systems in Queensland.

Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham has also taken action following this year's fatal mining accidents.  

Two expert independent reviews are now under way to identify changes needed to improve health and safety in the state's mines and quarries.

Forensic structural engineer Dr Sean Brady has been examining all fatal incidents in Queensland mines and quarries since 2000.

Dr Lynham said the review had since been broadened.

"It was originally coal mine incidents only to the end of 2018, but will now include mineral mine and quarry incidents, and all fatal incidents this year,” he said.

"This review will look at why mine workers have died over the past 20 years, how industry can improve, and how the mines inspectorate can work better.”

Separately, the University of Queensland is also reviewing the state's mining health and safety legislation to ensure it is relevant to current and emerging mine practice and technology.

The UQ team will consult with industry, unions, mine inspectors and legal experts during the review.

Dr Lynham said the reviews received the full support of industry representatives.

"They will both be completed by the end of this year and will be tabled in Parliament,” he said.