'They deserve the truth': Last's emotional mining probe plea
SHADOW Mines Minister Dale Last has delivered a stirring speech to Parliament by reading out the names of the six men who died in Queensland's resources industry in the past 12 months while moving a motion for a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry into mine safety.
Describing the inquiry as the "only real option", the Burdekin MP urged his fellow politicians to put politics aside and give the answers "Queenslanders deserve".
"But, for those members, who forget that they are here to represent Queenslanders, let me give you six other reasons," Mr Last said.
"David Routledge, Bradley Hardwick, 26-year-old Jack Gerdes, 21-year-old Connor-Shaye Milne, 25-year-old Adam Malone and Allan 'Big Al' Houston.
"When this motion is voted on, the record will show who in this place values the lives of Queenslanders and who values political point scoring.
"The LNP is standing shoulder to shoulder with our miners on this important issue because we know they deserve the truth and they deserve the answers.
"We also know that we must do whatever is needed to give answers to the families of those six victims, and we must take action to ensure their loss is not in vain."
Mr Last demanded answers from the State Government over the 500 less mine safety inspections completed last year compared to four years ago.
In a scathing attack, he also claimed mine safety inspector roles had sat vacant "while our miners are dying".
But parliament rejected the motion.
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said greater emphasis was being placed on mine audits compared to traditional inspections.
"Now is not the time for talk. It is the time for action," Dr Lynham said.
"A parliamentary inquiry would divert tripartite attention, commitment, time and resources from progressing immediate and important initiatives to improve mine worker safety.
"Every action the Opposition has detailed for their proposed inquiry is already underway."
He said while an inspection might take one or two inspectors a day, an audit was a more in-depth analysis and took a team of inspectors a week.
Dr Lynham said the State Government was taking immediate action on the "totally unacceptable" loss of life and serious injuries.
Two expert independent reviews are now under way to identify changes needed to improve health and safety in the state's mines and quarries.
A state-wide safety reset is also continuing at mine sites, which includes:
- Working together on reforms to strengthen safety culture in the resources sector. This includes sanctions for reckless behaviour and legislative reforms, such as the government's proposal to actively consider the offence of "industrial manslaughter".
- An additional $1.68 million for more inspectors in this year's budget
- Another chief inspector of mines.