Queensland Government figures have revealed the state has slashed the number of mine inspections by 400 in the past four years.
Safety inspections at Queensland mines have fallen year on year from 1781 in 2015–16, to 1459 the following year, then down to 1376 in 2017–18.
However, the number of “fulsome” audits have increased every year over that period.
An inspection might take one or two inspectors a day, and takes a team of inspectors a week, according to mine minister Anthony Lynham.
“There can be no justification for the massive reduction in mining inspections implemented by Labor,” Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said.
“It’s crucial Queensland learns lessons from these tragedies to ensure our mines are safe.”
Frecklington called for the need for an independent Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate mining safety.
The decline in safety inspections followed revelations that the state government had dissolved the advisory committee on mining safety last year due to the board’s inability to meet gender requirements.
“That needs to be investigated along with reports the mines budget has been cut and why we have gone from two chief inspectors to one,” Frecklington said.
But Lynham said government has acted in the past year: “More funding of $1.68 million has been allocated in the budget for more mines inspectors. Three new mines inspectors will be appointed, as well as another Chief Inspector.
“Mine health and safety laws have been reformed, giving inspectors new powers and increasing maximum fines.”
The state government has also authorised two independent reviews to look into why mine workers have died over the past 20 years, how the mines inspectorate can work better and the effectiveness of the state’s mining health and safety legislation.