Coal miner drives to Bowen to ask Pauline Hanson to explain
A FORMER One Nation voter who has black lung disease drove from Mackay to Bowen on Friday to confront Pauline Hanson over comments made by a One Nation party senator.
Keith Stoddart (right) headed to Bowen looking for the One Nation leader who is there this week. He says comments by Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts were offensive and that they show a lack of understanding about coal workers' pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease.
Before leaving, he wrote to Ms Hanson saying that he wanted to meet and stating that he wouldn't vote for her again while Malcolm Roberts is with her.
Central Queensland is traditionally a region which has a higher level of support for One Nation, particularly among coal workers. This issue could threaten that relationship.
"I'm heading up to Bowen, hopefully I'll get an interview with Pauline Hanson. I'll be asking why Malcolm Roberts is blaming us workers for having black lung," he said.
"I did 30 years in the mines, most of it at the face. I think the mines are going to have to drop their dust levels down, but I still want proper masks. I've got a son working there now and I don't want him to end up like this.
"There are a lot of doctors out there who don't believe in it either, to them I say come and live a couple of days in my lungs and see how you go."
However, Senator Roberts was contacted and explained: "The context of my words is misunderstood."
"Black lung is a tragic and terrible disease, and I send my sympathy to Mr Stoddart. My grandfather died of black lung. My father was chief mine inspector for Queensland, and worked hard to ensure mines were safe and free of black lung. Dad was awarded an Order of Australia for his contribution to mine safety.
"The CFMEU have also allowed regulations to be ignored by operators and subsequently miners have been affected by black lung. On the CFMEU's watch men are dying from black lung. At the essence of my case is that everyone on a mine site, regulators and the CFMEU are all jointly responsible for mine safety. Mine safety is everyone's job, end of story."
"Mr Stoddart can be assured that I am working with Senator Hanson to ensure mining regulations are enforced and enhanced, as I have my whole career, and that other miners won't contract black lung."