Former coal miner Stanley Wilson
Former coal miner Stanley Wilson Alistair Brightman

Black lung payouts step in right direction: Miner

IT'S cold comfort for him, but Stanley Wilson says compensation for fellow miners diagnosed with black lung is at least a step in making things right.

The former coal miner, who worked in the Fraser Coast's Burgowan mines for four decades, suffers from emphysema linked to both coal dust and smoking.

He previously gave testimony into the Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis (black lung) Parliamentary Inquiry.

On Tuesday, as a parliamentary committee continued to examine proposed legislation which would allow for black lung sufferers to receive between $18,000-$120,000 in compensation, Mr Wilson told the Chronicle proposed lump-sum payouts would go a long way to improving their current quality of life.

"I'd say it's a welcome move; there's no quality of life once you've got it... (but) any compensation will help with their suffering," Mr Wilson said.

"For me, it wouldn't help too much, because my emphysema is from the coal dust and smoking.

"The money would only reimburse me for the things I have now, like my oxygen tank and motorised scooter."

Stanley Wilson from Burrum Heads - former miner at the Burrum coalfields.
Stanley Wilson from Burrum Heads - former miner at the Burrum coalfields. Alistair Brightman

Under the proposed legislation, payouts would be assessed depending on the severity of the disease.

Office of Industrial Relations assistant senior director Janene Hillhouse said the payment scheme was determined by examining payments for permanent impairment and terminal illnesses.

"Only a worker with the most significant form of pneumoconiosis - progressive massive fibrosis - would potentially receive that sum (of $120,000)," she said in the committee hearing yesterday.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said having scaled payments was the fairest method.

"The graduated scale was formulated on the basis that the disease gets worse exponentially rather than in a linear fashion so there is higher compensation towards the higher grades of the scale," she said in a statement.

"The scaling of the payments is consistent with the approach taken for latent onset terminal payments under the workers' compensation scheme, and it has the support of stakeholders."

The costs of testing workers was estimated at $2500 each.

Miners will also win the right to reopen work cover cases if their condition has deteriorated, if the bill is passed.

The proposed legislation is being examined by the Queensland parliament's Finance and Administration committee.

- Additional reporting: News Regional


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