Black Lung victim, Keith Stoddard, addresses the media outside  the electorate office of Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry MP.
Black Lung victim, Keith Stoddard, addresses the media outside the electorate office of Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry MP. Jim Pearce

Victims of mine dust diseases seek coal levy

VICTIMS of mine dust diseases and their supporters have kicked off a campaign in an effort to establish a support fund.

The group of 16 former mine workers attempted to meet with the Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry at her electorate office in Rockhampton yesterday morning.

Ms Landry was unavailable to meet with the group, though a representative from her team confirmed she will be meeting with them later this month.

A proposal for a one cent per tonne, per week levy on coal produced is part of what the Mine Dust Victims Support Group would like to present to politicians.

The levy would create a fund for workers with diseases such as coal workers' pneumoconiosis (black lung) and silicosis, and their families. Such a fund could be accessed by the group for expenses incurred from the impact of the diseases.

Tieri father of five Tim Trewin was diagnosed with black lung in 2016. Because the disease had been recognised as being eradicated in Australia, he was forced to travel to the US for medical treatment, an expense he would have had to cover himself if his former workmates had not raised the money he and his family required to make the trip.

"When you can't be a miner anymore, that's what you lose, the camraderie you have with your workmates. It's like family," said Tim, who has recently been forced to resign and relocate due to his health.

Jim Pearce, a former coal miner and Queensland MP, is acting on the group's behalf as victim's advocate.

"Some of Queensland's coal operators are among the biggest and most profitable mining companies in the world. Our proposal would hardly be a blip on their radar," Pearce said.

 A representative for the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham confirmed that  current and former mine workers with mine dust lung disease are eligible for workers compensation, funded by premiums paid by employers. This includes mine workers being able to re-open their compensation claims in order to receive another lump sum payment if the disease worsens.



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