Adjournment Debate on Mines Safety and Bullying - Adjounment Debate

April 20, 2010

Extract from Hansard

HON ROBIN CHAPPLE (Mining and Pastoral) [9.45 pm]: I am glad the Minister for Mines and Petroleum has come into the chamber, because I want to raise something —

Hon Norman Moore: I spend most of my life in here, which is most of my problem.

Hon ROBIN CHAPPLE: I want to raise something for the information of the minister. As the minister would know, there was an article in the Kalgoorlie Miner of Saturday, 17 April 2010 on issues that I had raised in a question to the minister. The minister has not yet had an opportunity to answer that question due to the protocols of this place.

Hon Norman Moore: You should have told the Kalgoorlie Miner that you put it on notice —


Hon Norman Moore: — on the last day that Parliament was sitting, and then you said you hadn’t got an answer.

Hon ROBIN CHAPPLE: I made no comment to the Kalgoorlie Miner that I had not received an answer. I said that the process meant that we were still waiting for an answer. The minister knows the media as well as I do.

I will continue. According to the article, the minister said that some evidence had already been presented. He said —

 “If there is intimidation I would like to know about it,” he said.

 “Anybody who wants to come and see me and explain a situation (then) I’d love to hear it.”

There was a further article in today’s Kalgoorlie Miner headed “KCGM denies bullying allegations”, in which the minister was quoted as saying —

 “The process to be followed by mine employees and managers for any issue raised, that is not a clear and present danger, to first raise the issue with the safety and health representative or supervisor,” he said.

“Where the situation cannot be immediately remedied, or needs additional resources, the issue should go the site OHS committee and management.

“If after all due process the issue remains unresolved, an inspector may be approached to give appropriate direction.

“To short circuit this process by going directly to the inspectorate undermines the role of site committee and is in breach of the act.

I am sure that the minister, who does not often go to media sites, would not be aware that there is a Super Pit employees’ Facebook site. I will quote Mr Tony Brown, who has worked at KCGM for at least five years. He has held a number of positions within the company, including as supervisor of dispatch. I understand that he is currently employed as the Pit 2 or assistant supervisor of C crew in the open pit operation. He has stepped up to the position of Pit 1 or acting supervisor of C crew on a number of occasions, and he is presently the Pit 1 or acting supervisor of C crew in the absence of Pit 1 supervisor Craig McDougall. I now refer to the Facebook site. I will make sure that I do not offend the house in any way, shape or form. Mr Brown left comments on the Facebook site at 1.53 pm on 17 February, saying —

Good old KCGM made the front pages of the (Kalgoorlie) miner Saturday, apparently the place is full of bullys, fancy that, upsetting all the kids with the bullyboy tactics, … me I can hardly see the keyboard because of all the tears coming out of my eyes because someone once told me to harden up or … off, for … sake someone give me a hurt feelings report so I can fill it in & run to the union & my member for parliament.

The gentleman has made a number of other statements on that Facebook site. I will give the minister the address of the Facebook site so that he can read those comments for himself.

Hon Norman Moore: It is all in Hansard.

Hon ROBIN CHAPPLE: He goes on to talk about how a couple of employees have left and says —

 2 more down only a couple to go, but then we will have another 1 or 2 raise their ugly little heads waiting to be smashed in, oh well life @ the pit just rolls on.

He then finishes with the acronym PMSL. Members may be interested to know what web statements like that mean. He makes a number of other statements that are equally derogatory of the workforce.

If this person is the sort of gentleman who stands in the way of members of the workforce who want to deal with their OHS committee or management, it is no wonder that people want to go outside the organisation and represent their concerns to members of Parliament and/or the department. I am very, very concerned that if we go down the track of implementing a process that does not have some rigour and regulation, and if mines department inspectors are not dealing with these issues, we will have more problems. As the minister may know, I have submitted a number of questions pertaining to other mine sites. Those questions deal with very much the same issues.

The minister may also like to know that on 16 April 2010, the day after he released his statement on 15 April 2010 at that CME function and talked about the need to get tough on the mining industry, an email was sent out by Barrick Gold Corporation to its management and staff on all of its sites. The email details a number of serious incidents that have taken place at its sites in the days leading up to the minister’s statement. The email states in part —

The previous 24 hours have seen a series of serious incidents across the region at all of our key departments. I thought it necessary to stop all work in all our operations to discuss these recent events and ensure all our minds and efforts are focused on safe production.

The email then describes those incidents as follows —

 Potentially Serious Dehydration event Underground at KB.

  • Electrical Welder in workshops found with 15 amp plug ground down to fit in a 10 amp socket. KB
  • Driller Offsider accidentally — Accidentally —struck in Chest with sledgehammer. (Raleigh)
  • Fork lift struck LV resulting in significant damage. (Mill)
  • IT —

That is a large underground forklift —

Struck LV. (Raleigh)

  • Serious High Potential when a high Pressure air line failed while 2 operators working around it. This had the real potential to be a fatal incident.

I am sure that the management at Barrick is doing all it can to bring its sites back to a safe operating condition.

However, until we get a handle on the mining industry, we need to make sure that we are getting inspectors out to mine sites to carry out unannounced inspections of mines. The minister would be aware, from the questions that I have posed to him, of some of those sites. Mr President, I do not know how to do this, but I will pass to the minister the relevant Facebook site.

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