On 25 June 2014, the Senate established the Senate Select Committee on
The final reporting date for the committee is 20 June 2016. The committee's
resolution allows the committee to make interim reports such as this one.
The committee has completed 50 public hearings to date. A list of
hearings which focused on Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis (CWP) is at Appendix 1.
Through its extensive program of public hearings, the committee has
taken evidence from many health experts, practitioners, consumers and
communities. The public hearing program has also enabled the committee to
engage the wider Australian community, including those in rural and regional
areas which may not normally be able to directly engage with the parliamentary
The committee's high level of activity allows it to be responsive to
issues in health as they arise. An example of this is the committee's inquiry
into the proposed privatisation of Australian Hearing (Third Interim Report).
In this fifth interim report, the committee again examines a specific health
issue: the re-emergence of CWP, or black lung, in Australia. To examine this
issue, the committee held two full day hearings and one part day hearing:
7 March 2016, Brisbane;
8 March 2016, Mackay; and
23 March 2016, Campbelltown (this hearing looked at both hospital
funding and CWP).
The committee has received 204 submissions since the beginning of its
inquiry. In relation to the re-emergence of Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis, the
committee has received ten submissions. The committee also received 172 emails
in support of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's (CFMEU)
'Dust to Dust: Make Black Lung History' campaign. A list of submissions
relating to the re-emergence of CWP is at Appendix 2.
The committee's terms of reference are wide-ranging. It is the
committee's intention to explore various issues in depth over the course of its
Additional information, tabled documents, correspondence and answers to
questions on notice received by the committee to date and related Coal Workers'
Pneumoconiosis are listed at Appendix 3.
Structure of this report
This is the fifth interim report of the Senate Select Committee on
Health. Summaries of the committee's previous interim reports are detailed in
This report focuses on the re-emergence of Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis in
Australia. While seemingly very specific in focus, this issue is important in
the wider area of public health. The issue highlights not only the clear
relationship between regulation and public health priorities but also the need
for properly funded public health infrastructure which can respond to the
re-emergence of a disease thought eradicated in Australia. In addition to this
introductory chapter, the report includes three chapters:
background–the re-emergence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis in
Australia and the independent review being undertaken in Queensland (Chapter
the issues raised in the committee's inquiry, through submissions
and evidence in public hearings (Chapter 3); and
discussion of the committee's conclusions and recommendations
Notes on references
References to submissions in this report are to individual submissions
received by the committee and published on the committee's website. References
to the committee Hansards are to the proof transcripts.
The committee thanks all those who participated in the public hearings
regarding the re-emergence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis. In particular the
committee wishes to thank Mr Percy Verrall and his wife Mrs Daphne Verrall, and
Mr Keith Stoddart and his wife Mrs Danielle Stoddart who shared their
experiences of being diagnosed with coal workers' pneumoconiosis. The committee
sincerely appreciates that these witnesses shared their time and experiences
with the committee, despite their ill health.
The committee also wishes to thank Mr Ian Hiscock and Mr Chris Carter
who shared their experiences of being coal miners. Their evidence helped the
committee understand the reality of working in the coal mines of Queensland.
The committee also thanks all those who emailed as part of the CFMEU's
'Dust to Dust: Make Black Lung History' campaign and showed their support for
the sufferers of coal workers' pneumoconiosis and for those working to improve
conditions in Australian coal mines for workers.
Mr Percy Verrall, who spoke to
the committee at its Brisbane hearing on 7 March 2016, holds up an x-ray of his
lungs showing the development of CWP.
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