House debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Constituency Statements

Australian Bushfires, Workplace Safety

4:18 pm

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources) Share this | | Hansard source

Earlier contributors spoke about the terrible bushfires in northern New South Wales and Queensland, and I would like to add my own expression of concern and support for all those affected. I pay tribute to our firefighters, our emergency services personnel and all the volunteers who are putting their own lives at risk to help others at this terrible time of need. But I reject the contributions of those who say there is no link between what's happening with respect to the fires and climate change. Can we just stop arguing about the cause and accept our climate is changing in the most harmful of ways? It's incumbent upon our generation to act. We do not have to act in a way which is detrimental to our economy. We are smarter and more innovative than that, and we must meet our international obligations with respect to the Paris treaty.

I want to talk today about another form of tragedy, and that is death in the workplace. Twenty-four years ago I stood alongside then Prime Minister Paul Keating to officially open the Jim Comerford memorial wall at the headquarters of the northern division of CFMEU Mining and Energy. Sadly, there are now more than 1,800 men, women and boys—the youngest boy aged 11—on that memorial wall. Very sadly, in the last year—that is, between the ceremony on I attended on Sunday and last year's ceremony—one more name has been added to that wall. It is a tragedy. That is the name of Quinton Moore, who worked at the Bengalla mine. His wife, Shannon, and the rest of the family attended the annual memorial service on Sunday.

We were very fortunate to have the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, as the keynote speaker this year. He showed a very good understanding of the challenges of working in the mine working industry. He showed a very strong understanding of workplace safety and his determination that, while we have dramatically slowed down the number of names being added to that wall each year, we cannot be complacent. We must be forever vigilant and continue to ensure our mines are safe places for our local people to work.

I pay tribute to the mine workers' union for perpetually keeping this memorial service alive, because it does so much to ensure that we don't become complacent and we are forever vigilant.