CFMEU industry safety and health representative Stephen Watt outside the Curragh mine.
CFMEU industry safety and health representative Stephen Watt outside the Curragh mine.

From the editor’s desk: Mine death tragedy hits a chord

HOW has this happened again?

Those were the words that sprang to my mind on Sunday evening as news of another fatal incident at a Bowen Basin mine began to filter through the community.

For the eighth time in 18 months, our mining community is in mourning.

For the eighth time in 18 months, a son, partner, friend, father or family member went to work in the Bowen Basin, and failed to return home to his loved ones.

For the eighth time in 18 months, a Bowen Basin mine or quarry has come to a complete halt and an investigation has been launched.

For the eighth time in 18 months, politicians have started the blame game, pointing fingers and calling for action.

Enough is enough.

For the past eight years I have been writing for communities that rely heavily on the mining industry to prosper and in some cases, survive. I have never seen so much death in our mining industry.

When a mine worker dies in this region, it has a ripple effect on his or her friends, family, workmates, the loved ones of those who have lost their lives previously and the families of all working in the industry today. It is traumatic.

I am not a mining or safety expert and sadly, I do not know what the answer is. I wish I did. But it is clear to see that whatever is being done is not working. Eight deaths in 18 months prove that.

 

Goondiwindi man Donald Rabbitt was killed at Blackwater's Curragh mine on January 12, 2020.
Goondiwindi man Donald Rabbitt was killed at Blackwater's Curragh mine on January 12, 2020.

Sunday's tragedy is sadly one of a string of incidents that has marred the beginning of the new decade in Central Queensland.

On New Year's Day, emergency services were thrust into action after a major boat crash on the Fitzroy River, upstream from the Ski Gardens.

Maritime Safety Queensland is still investigating the incident, which involved 10 people. The vessel involved was seized.

 

Boat crash Fitzroy River.
Boat crash Fitzroy River.

Less than a week later, the region was shocked to wake to the news of a man critically injured after allegedly being set on fire at Depot Hill, Rockhampton.

The man, 44, suffered burns to 25 per cent of his body's surface area and was air-lifted to Royal Brisbane Hospital where he was in a deep coma.

A man was arrested over the incident and is due to have his matters heard again in Rockhampton Magistrates Court next month.

Sadly, the blows have kept coming for CQ, with a man killed and a woman critically injured in a crash at Capella overnight.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of both the man and the woman at this sad time.

 

While there has been some tragic news so far this year, there have also been some lovely stories about CQ residents going out of their way to help with the ongoing bushfire emergency in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

In the past week we have heard from a Rocky pub hosting a 'Frothie for a Firey' event, Rockhampton businessman Amit Rana who hosted a fundraising lunch at the weekend and even three Capricorn Coast girls who put their Christmas presents to good use sewing pouches for injured wildlife.

We also continued our #FairGoForOurFireys campaign, and have had some great success:

>> Ambitious bid to bring monster water bomber to Aus

>> Applications for compensation open for Qld fireys and SES

>> SES volunteers to be included in firey compo deal

 

And while some parts of the region recorded record low rainfall for 2019, it has been a nice start to the year in terms of weather with some decent falls recorded across the wider region.

Including in Moranbah, where little Lacey Sewell, 14 months, saw rain for the first time at the family's property Mallawa Station.

What a cutie!

Emma Sewell took this photo of Lacey Sewell, 14 months at the family's property Mallawa Station 90km west of Moranbah.
Emma Sewell took this photo of Lacey Sewell, 14 months at the family's property Mallawa Station 90km west of Moranbah. "When seeing rain for the first time in your life is like going to Disney Land, ended up with 12mm a couple days ago and another 9mm yesterday. Very very isolated showers but it's a hopeful start!"

 

There has also been great news for the Capricorn Coast, with plans for a major new development revealed.

As we move forward, one of the biggest events in the region this year will be the Local Government Elections with candidates beginning to stick their hands up for mayoral and councillor positions in Rockhampton, Livingstone and Isaac.

We have already heard from a number of candidates on the Capricorn Coast and in Rockhampton.

If you intend to nominate, we would love to hear from you. Email us at tmbully@capnews.com.au

 

- Melanie Plane, Acting Editor