QLD parliament passes 20-year jail terms for manslaughter

Mining executives will face harsher punishments for the deaths of their employees after Queensland parliament passed.

Under
the new legislation, Queensland’s mining and quarry executives
responsible for the deaths of employees will face up to 20 years in jail
if they are found to have been negligent.

Only mine operator employees can hold critical statutory safety roles in coal mines and not the contracted workers.

Queensland
has 50,000 mine and quarry workers, and the new legislation aims to
deliver a strong message to those in charge throughout the industry.

“This
offence sends the clear message to employers and senior officers that
the safety and health of their workers is paramount,” Queensland Mines
Minister Anthony Lynham said.

“In the past two years we’ve had
eight workers die, and a gas explosion in an underground coal mine
(Anglo American’s Grosvenor) has put five miners in hospital.

“It’s not acceptable.”

According to Lynham, the new laws will push for safer mining activity in Queensland.

“Safety on a mine site is everybody’s responsibility,” he said.

“But
a safety culture needs to be modelled right from the top and creating
the offence of industrial manslaughter is to ensure senior company
officers do all they can to create a safe mine site.

“These new
sanctions bring the resources sector and its workers in line with every
other workplace across the State — but with higher financial penalties.”

Queensland
Resources Council (QRC) responded to the new manslaughter laws by
pledging that no “unintended consequences for mine safety” would arise
from the new legislation.

“The QRC will work with the minister and
the government to ensure there are no unintended consequences for mine
safety from the bill that may diminish mine safety and that, together,
we can secure the fullest possible compliance with mine safety laws,” it
stated.

The Queensland Government has passed a number of
industry-related safety reforms, including a maximum penalty of $4
million for offences, powers for regulators to issue fines without going
to court and statewide safety reset sessions for mine and quarry
workers.

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