Senator "appalled" inspector not giving evidence to inquiry

  • Mackay Base Hospital has capability to deal with the health issues of black lung, professor says
  • Inquiry to also look at reduced federal funding for health
  • Worker says he is not receiving workers compensation, instead paying out of his own pocket
  • Senator Doug Cameron is disappointed that the mines safety and health commissioner and chief inspector won't give evidence

UPDATE 12:06pm

Senator Doug Cameron said he was "appalled" that the State Department of Mines chief inspector and commissioner would not be giving evidence at today's inquiry.

Senator Cameron had been trying to organise a teleconference with the pair to take place at the end of today's hearing, but said overnight they had said they would not be available.

When questioning Mackay Hospital and Health Service adjunct associate Professor David Farlow, Senator Cameron said he was concerned about Mr Stoddart's testimony that he had had to travel to Brisbane for an official black lung diagnosis.

"Why the referral process has been to that distance, I'm not sure," Prof Farlow said.

Prof Farlow said the Mackay hospital was equipped to handle respiratory disease, including cases of black lung.

The inquiry continues at Mackay Grande Suites. 

INITIAL: Former mines worker Keith Stoddart said he's had to pay for medical costs out-of-pocket since he was diagnosed with black lung disease last year, having not yet received workers' compensation.

Mr Stoddart, who has worked in New South Wales and Queensland mines for roughly 30 years, was the first person to give evidence at day two of the Senate Select Committee on Health's black lung inquiry in Mackay today.

Six Queensland coal miners have been diagnosed with black lung recently, which was previously thought to have been eradicated.

Mr Stoddart said he had been swimming 800 metres a day until signs of the lung disease started to show last year.

"I'm not even game to jump in the water now," he said.

Mr Stoddart's wife Danielle also gave evidence, saying her husband didn't have the "strength or energy" for simple tasks such as mowing the lawn.

At a press conference after giving his testimony, Mr Stoddart said his greatest concern was for his son, who works in underground mining.

The inquiry continues at Mackay Grande Suites. 

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