Black Lung committee to draft legislation

Stuart Layt

The parliamentary committee investigating black lung disease in Queensland coal mine workers has been granted sweeping power to draft its own legislation, as well as having its brief expanded to include tunnel workers.

The Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis Select Committee handed down its interim report on Wednesday, calling for its terms of reference to be expanded to include workers on Brisbane's numerous tunnel projects.

It's believed they may be at risk of suffering silicosis, a similar disease to black lung.

Committee chair Jo-Ann Miller successfully moved the motion in state parliament on Thursday, with the reporting date for the final report now pushed back to May as a result.

As part of the motion, the committee was also granted the power to draft its own legislation.

Ms Miller read out a request from mining union the CFMEU pointing out the department of mines - which has been slammed in the interim report - would be the same department drafting legislation in response to the final report.

She said the committee was well-placed to draw up new laws.

"To date we have received almost 50 submissions and counting. We've heard hundred of hours of testimony, and gone through 10,000 documents, all of which paint and illuminating and often disturbing picture," Ms Miller told parliament.

Current Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham spoke in favour of the motion, but pointed out the government had not been idle in dealing with the problem of black lung.

"Black lung does not belong in the 21st century, and this government has thrown the kitchen sink at the issue," Dr Lynham said

The measures already implemented include ensuring all mine workers have chest X-rays at the start of their careers, and at regular intervals after that, as well as tightening the reporting framework for mining companies.

Dr Lynham also said five thousand chest X-rays had been sent to the United States for specialist assessment, with plans in place to assess those X-rays in Queensland by July.