SPEECH: Condemnation of Senator Malcolm Roberts’ comments regarding black lung disease

Jun 19, 2017

Mr CONROY (Shortland) (13:58): I rise today to condemn the comments of One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts. Last week in the other place, Senator Roberts said:

Black lung is not an inherent problem when it is managed properly.

I would normally refrain from arguing with someone as mendacious as Senator Roberts, but these dangerous comments need to be refuted. For at senator obsessed with empirical evidence, he cannot get basic facts right. I represent the Hunter region, the oldest and greatest coal-producing region in our country. It is a region which employs around 18,000 coalminers. To see a resurgence of this horribly deadly disease in Australia in the last few years is significant and disturbing. Twenty-one cases of black lung in Queensland have been confirmed. Earlier this year, a retired Hunter Valley coalminer was diagnosed with black lung—the first since the 1970s.

Senator Roberts’ comments represent an incredible ignorance of the issue. Instead of using the horror of black lung to grandstand about the Adani coalmine and attack unions, he should support tougher safety regulations and improved oversight to prevent and contain this disease. I dare him to have the guts to repeat these comments at the annual Miners Memorial Day that commemorates the 1,800 men, women and children as young as 11 that have died in Hunter coalmines. Shame on you, Senator Roberts. You truly are a grub.

The SPEAKER: It being 2 pm, the time for members’ statements has concluded under standing order 43.

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