Dr Anthony Lynham, Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy has introduced legislation to Parliament to establish an independent safety and health regulatory body funded by a levy on Queensland resources companies.
Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) will include already-independent mining inspectors and, in a move away from the influence of existing government departments, will take on the safety and health functions currently performed by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy. RSHQ's proposed establishment stems from 68 recommendations made by the Parliamentary Select Committee into coal workers' pneumoconiosis and follows the deaths of six mine and quarry workers in the past 12 months.
The Resources Safety and Health Queensland Bill 2019 (Qld) provides that RSHQ will be responsible for regulating safety and health in the State's resources industries and will comprise the coal mines, mineral mines and quarries, explosives and petroleum and gas inspectorates. The Bill further establishes the role of the Commissioner for RSHQ, who will be an adviser to the Minister and engage with representatives of the industries, replacing the current Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health.
The Work Health and Safety (WHS) prosecutor will have sole responsibility for prosecuting serious offences under Queensland's resources Acts1 while other offences may be prosecuted by either the WHS prosecutor or the appointed chief executive officer of RSHQ.
The Minister has stated that RSHQ will be funded by a levy on resources companies. However, it is unclear from the Bill whether a new levy will be created for this specific purpose or if funds are to be redirected through the existing mining safety levy imposed on the State's resources companies.
The introduction of the Bill follows a suite of changes to mining safety and health legislation in the past five years. The Minister has said that this will separate the job of protecting Queensland's 70,000 plus resources workers from the job of growing and faciliating the resources sector.
1comprising the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (Qld), the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 (Qld), the Explosives Act 1999 (Qld) and the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (Qld).
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