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Parliamentary inquiry to look into Black Lung

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World Coal,

The Queensland Parliament has supported a government proposal to establish a parliamentary inquiry into the re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis in the state, rejecting an opposition call for a more independent inquiry.

“A focused parliamentary select committee will provide the scrutiny Queenslanders expect of an open and transparent government, without distracting from the immediate priority: fixing the issue,” said Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham.

Leader of the Opposition Tim Nicholls, however, argued that an inquiry independent of parliament was “the best way to get to the bottom of what happened and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

“There seems to be a blame game happening now between the industry and government departments about what happened, why it happened and whose fault it is,” said Nicholls.

At least 14 cases of coal workers pneumoconiosis have been confirmed in Queensland with mining union, the CFMEU, saying it knows of more than 30 more. The disease had thought to have been eliminated from Australia.

The select committee inquiry would be established within 30 days, Dr Lynham said, and have the standard powers to hear evidence, call witnesses, order documents and report back to parliament.

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