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Queensland Ombudsman Refusal To Investigate RSHQ Mines Inspectorate Reply 24th September 2021

Queensland Ombudsman Refusal to Investigate RSHQ Mines Inspectorate Reply 24th September 2021

24th September 2021

Queensland Ombudsman Office

Attn Dr Misty Fish

Principal Investigator (Internal Review)

Dear Misty;

Thank you for your reply.

Can I ask before you finalised the Correspondence did you happen to notice about the latest Coal Mine Fatality at the Crinum Underground Mine?

https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/rockhampton/underground-coal-mine-collapse-at-sojitz-gregory-crinum-near-emerald/news-story/7046cbf7acf7d287fbfd210e751b311c

If so, are you also aware that it took a further 3 days to be able to recover Mr Dawson’s body?

By a count of the RSHQ data base there have been 17, yes Seventeen Fatalities in Queensland Coal Mines since the 2008 Ombudsman Report.

It must be wonderful to be in a high floor of the Brisbane CBD gazing out the air-conditioned office taking some sort of disinterested academic or philosophical position when it comes to Government Regulation and Oversight of Coal Mine Workers Lives and Health.

We are not talking about a Public Servant explaining how they spent the Government Office Stationery allowance.

Nor how the Environment Department counted the number of Bum Breathing Turtles in the Mary River

We are talking mining workers lives and their future health.

This just from todays news

https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/rockhampton/david-tonkin-suing-mining-companies-including-thiess-and-bma-for-exposure-to-silica-working-in-queensland-mines/news-story/d186930a76bbedffdbbdd13866d4542f

The very workers who put their lives every day that pays the Royalties that directly pays for part of your wages.

Is the same Organization that proudly boasted in 2008:

Under the Ombudsman Act 2001 (Ombudsman Act), I have a dual role to investigate the administrative actions of Queensland public sector agencies and to assist those agencies to improve their decision-making and administrative practice. As part of my administrative improvement role, I have undertaken a series of own initiative investigations into the compliance practices of government regulators.

My investigation of the Queensland Mines Inspectorate (QMI) within the Department of Mines and Energy (DME) is the latest such investigation.

While I had not received any complaints about the QMI, media and academic sources in Queensland and elsewhere have alleged in recent years that the QMI may not be adequately fulfilling its compliance roles under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (Coal Act) and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 (Mining and Quarrying Act), and that mine safety standards may be falling as a result.

I commenced an investigation on my own initiative3  into these matters. My investigation was conducted informally4  without exercising my coercive powers.5

 This is what your website states

https://www.ombudsman.qld.gov.au/what-we-do/role-of-the-ombudsman/our-role

We have three main roles:

  1.  to give people a timely, effective and independent way to have administrative actions of agencies investigated
  2. to improve the quality of decision-making and administrative practice in government agencies
  3. oversight of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010.

 We investigate complaints about the actions and decisions of state government departments and agencies (including state schools and TAFE), local councils and public universities.  Our complaints assessment and investigation service is free and independent.

 The Ombudsman is accountable to parliament, rather than the government of the day. No one can direct:

  •  how our investigations should be conducted
  • whether we should or should not investigate particular complaints
  • the level of priority we give to investigations.

 The only exception is when parliament or a parliamentary committee refers matters to us for investigation.

It seems you have sought nearly every vaguely technical reason possible to refuse to conduct an Investigation of the now RSHQ.

Do you not care about helping to prevent Coal Mine Worker Fatalities?

Do you have a conscience?

Are you too scared to conduct an Investigation?

Are you not concerned that all the Findings from the 2008 Ombudsman Reform have in fact remain unaddressed or gotten worse?

Are you happy that people have stood in Parliament, thanked the Ombudsman and said they had addressed all the Recommendations, when that is blatantly untrue?

How anything they did not like got delegated to a Sub Committee either to be rejected quietly or twisted out of all recognition to the intent?

The Mines Department movers and shakers must have been laughing at your expense for years.

Be rest assured it is now obvious that the Ombudsman Office is now in fact part of the problem.

Every time your news feed mentions another Coal Mine Fatality, men getting burnt in a methane explosion, workers getting crushed/drowned in machinery falling in Open Cuts just remember the correspondence you have sent me.

The Ombudsman Fingerprints are now all over the continuing disgrace that Mining Safety Oversight and Mining Safety in Queensland continues to be.

Public servants getting away with this behavior has set a precedent for the entire public service.

Public Service Officers can say what they like, avoid scrutiny from the Public Service Commission and the Ethics Committee and the Ombudsman, then likely be promoted.

The public service is laughing at the Parliament and any Select Committees and now the Ombudsman.

Is it more important to protect potentially lying incompetent Public Servants that operate in near total secrecy than the Safety and Health of Coal Mine Workers?

No matter what happens in the Coal Mining Industry.

THE MINES INSPECTORATE goes on without Independent Scrutiny in its own CONE of SECRECY.

I just cannot believe how impervious the Mines Department (now RSHQ) is to any sort of Parliamentary or Public scrutiny.

No matter how many miners have been terminated for black lung or silicosis to live or die with it.

No matter how many methane ignitions.

No matter how many spontaneous combustion events closing mines.

No matter how many get burnt.

No matter how many single fatalities we have.

All that happens is that everyone in power says how unacceptable it is.

We will get a full Mines Department (RSHQ) Investigation done.

Some spin doctor gets up and spouts such meaningless dribble as

“We have the toughest mine safety laws in the world”

In the view of many Coal Mine Workers the Queensland Mines Department (RSHQ) is just a sick joke.

When is going to be enough?

The forever entombed miners from Box Flat, Kianga, Moura 2 etc would be rolling in their graves if they had one instead of their bodies being forever lost in the Mine that killed them.

Yours in Safety

Stuart Vaccaneo

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