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End industrial manslaughter exemption for mining companies to save lives

May 21, 2018

CFMEU Mining and Energy division has called for Queensland’s industrial manslaughter laws to be applied to the mining industry, following the release of a report into the death in 2014 of electrician Paul McGuire at the Grasstree mine, owned by mining company Anglo Australian Resources.

Anglo was fined $137,500 in 2016 by the Mackay Magistrates’ Court. The Magistrate found that the company’s “basic failures have cost the man his life”.

The fine represents the cost of two hours of the mine’s operation.

The Queensland Mines Inspectorate previously found 21 breaches of regulations by the mine. The regulator released a report into the fatality late last week which makes recommendations for safety improvements at the mine – four years after the event.

Queensland District Branch President Stephen Smyth said the union expected much more from the Queensland Government than belated safety recommendations.

“Nothing that has occurred since this fatality has delivered the justice that Paul McGuire and his family are entitled to and deserve,” Stephen Smyth said.

“This report changes nothing. The regulator seems incapable of making the company accountable in any way, shape or form.

“Despite 21 instances of breaches of law at the mine at the time of the fatality, the only consequences are a paltry fine, and recommendations that are four years too late.

“Simply fining companies over deaths at work is an insult to the families of those killed, and it means nothing to companies making billions in profits from Australian mining.

“It is only the threat of criminal prosecutions that will force mining companies to take people’s lives and safety seriously.

“Political pressure from mining industry lobby groups with deep pockets succeeded in exempting the entire resources industry from industrial manslaughter laws introduced by the Queensland Government last year.

“When the vested interests of hugely profitable multinational corporations have been put before the very basic rights of people to be safe at work, we know that the rules are well and truly broken.

“Why should the mining industry be exempt from being held accountable for serious safety breaches? Miners’ lives should be worth the same as any other workers’.”

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