On 4 February 2020, the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, the Hon Dr Anthony Lynham, introduced to Queensland’s Legislative Assembly, the Mineral and Energy Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (the “Bill”), with the Bill being immediately referred to the State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee (the “Committee”) for detailed consideration with a report due by 27 March 2020.
The Bill proposes amendments to some 19 pieces of Queensland legislation.
As outlined in the Bill’s Explanatory Notes (“EN”), the main objectives of the Bill relate to three Queensland Government priorities:
One of the main priorities in the Bill is amending relevant legislation in the Queensland resources industry to “create industrial manslaughter offences and make important changes to the engagement of senior statutory positions at mines”.
The introduction of the industrial manslaughter offence has, as the, raised controversy in the mining industry which was previously exempt from industrial manslaughter laws which were introduced in 2017. A further objective of the Bill is streamlining minor, and miscellaneous amendments to legislation within the Bill’s portfolio. These amendments are designed to improve the operation of these acts and regulations.
Thehas so far received over 70 submissions from mining companies, industry bodies, unions, and workers who would be affected if the law is introduced - many of the submissions address only two Clauses of the 257-page document:
In its submission, Queensland Law Society ("QLS") opposed the introduction of the industrial manslaughter law and said existing legislation to prosecute those responsible for mine deaths was adequate. President of the QLS, Luke Murphy submitted:
went on to say that if the industrial manslaughter law must be introduced, it needed serious adjustment:
reports the new laws proposed in the Bill would carry a 20-year maximum sentence for employers and Senior Safety Officers at coal mines where workers are killed on the job.
Some stake-holders have welcomed the move to make Senior Safety Officer positions only available to permanent employees — a move intended to improve safety transparency onsite. But the proposal may have some way to go with mining companies, the QLS, and the mother of an injured mine worker who have labelled the law as “excessive”.
In a, Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said his “… Government made no apology for laws that were about acting on negligence and saving lives”.
The Minister further commented:
Mining companies have welcomed the State Government action but have commented that the details of the proposed law were too extreme.
submitted that the individual offence of industrial manslaughter be limited to the most senior levels of its organisation, excluding onsite safety representatives, from prosecution:
Victoria Somlyay, Head of Corporate Relations atsaid in her submission:
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