Miners in Ballarat need time to grieve, but also timely justice


While families of miners at the Ballarat Gold Mine must be given space to grieve, there can be no retreat from prosecuting the mine operator using new industrial manslaughter laws, says the union which represents workers at the mine.

On Wednesday afternoon two gold miners working 500 metres underground undertaking ‘air legging’ were pinned beneath fallen rocks.

While one survived and is in a critical condition in Alfred Hospital, another miner, a 37-year-old from Bruthen was killed.

Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) Victorian Secretary Ronnie Hayden said WorkSafe mustn’t be afraid to use Victoria’s new workplace manslaughter laws.

“This is the 12th workplace death this year and it’s only March, enough is enough,” said Mr Hayden.

“Air legging, which is basically two blokes operating a drill, is not a safe mining technique and one which the mine operator, Victory Minerals, only just re-introduced despite most modern mining operations banning the practice because it’s unsafe.

“We public need to see our new Industrial Manslaughter laws used here, it needs to be crystal clear, if one of your workers dies because of your decision you will do jail time, simple as that.

“But that’s not what we see, time and again, workers get killed at work and then there are just ongoing court cases, just years long lawyers’ picnics and no-one is ever held to account, I’m sick of it.

“There have been 169 Victorians killed at work since these laws were introduced and not a second of jail time has resulted, that’s a joke, we need an effective deterrent here, we need to see decision makers getting custodial sentences, I can’t put it any clearer than that.

“Absolutely we need to give miners and their families in Ballarat time to grieve, but we also need to see timely justice, WorkSafe needs to investigate this and bring charges against the individuals responsible,” said Mr Hayden.

Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) National Secretary Paul Farrow said while members were in shock and grieving, they still wanted swift justice.

“Our members are absolutely livid about this, it’s time dodgy employers felt the full force of the law,” said Mr Farrow.

“It needs to be understood, if someone at your worksite dies as a result of a decision you’ve made, you’re going to jail, I think the public would be shocked to find out it almost never happens.

/Public Release.