Former federal Liberal minister Ian Macfarlane has attacked his state party over its move last month to force the Palaszczuk government to release its plans to protect the state’s coal workers from black lung disease.
The former Howard and Turnbull government minister, now head of the Queensland Resources Council, accused Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls of a “cheap political stunt’’ that led to the government abandoning plans to delay its response to a damning report into the resurgence of the deadly disease.
Earlier this month Mines Minister Anthony Lynham finally responded to a parliamentary report into the disease, officially known as pneumoconiosis, with a $25 million package of measures.
Dr Lynham said the govern- ment supported all 68 recommendations made by the coal workers’ pneumoconiosis select committee inquiry four months ago, which was launched following the reemergence of the disease.
The inquiry called for the establishment of an independent mine safety and health authority to take the job of protecting workers away from the department, which it said had made inadequate and superficial attempts at doing so.
The government had initially sought a three-month extension in responding to the report.
In an email last week to the heads of mining and resource companies, Mr Macfarlane said the LNP had convinced Labor backbencher Joanne Miller — a strong advocate of miners — to cross the floor and force the government to release its response.
“Faced with losing control of the chamber and having Joanne Miller cross the floor against them, the government was forced to agree to release the report response, which they did on Friday,’’ he said.
“The industry should not miss the opportunity to remind the LNP that again they have failed to support good process to the detriment of our industry.’’
Mr Macfarlane said several recommendations were “flagged as requiring further consultation or independent advice’’.
In a statement, the Opposition Leader said it was the right thing to do.
“The LNP makes no apologies for wanting to drive black lung out of the Queensland coal industry,’’ Mr Nicholls said.