Father Paul McGuire was killed in mine gas trap at Grasstree Mine in 2014.
Father Paul McGuire was killed in mine gas trap at Grasstree Mine in 2014.

INQUEST: CFMMEU lawyer probes investigation process

UPDATE TUESDAY 3PM: MACKAY Coroner David O'Connell has stymied suggestions the Natural Resources, Mining and Energy Department did not investigate the mine death of Paul McGuire properly labelling them "unfair".

CFMMEU lawyer Gavin Rebetzke has suggested if certain steps were not taken during the investigation from the Mines Inspectorate it was "unsatisfactory in terms of the process of investigation".

Former Mines Inspectorate investigator Andrew Broadfoot was the first witness to give evidence during day one of the inquest and was one of four Inspectorate investigators involved with Mr McGuire's death.

Mackay Coroners Court heard Mr Broadfoot had no experience "at all" in the mining industry but was involved in evidence gathering, on the back of about 18 years' experience as a detective with the Queensland Police Service.

Mr Broadfoot was not the lead investigator on the case.

"I wanted to explore the degree to which the investigating inspectors used all of the tools available to them which included (using ISHRs)," Mr Rebetzke said.

The court heard an Industry Safety and Health Representative was elected by the workforce and given certain roles under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act, including to be involved in mine fatality incidents.

"It may be that no consideration has been given at all to the extent to which the ISHR should participate," Mr Rebetzke said.

Coroner David O'Connell reined Mr Rebeztke in from this line of questioning, stating it was "straying into ideological views" outside the scope of the inquest.

"I don't think anyone can say (the Mines Inspectorate) didn't investigate fully," Mr O'Connell said.

Mr Rebetzke said CFMMEU ISHR Jason Hill had also prepared a report into the incident recommending prosecution proceedings against some parties, who were not charged.

"We don't know what consideration was given to charging those (parties)," Mr Rebeztke told the court.

The court heard Mr McGuire's death occurred on May 6, 2014 and the Mines Inspectorate report into the incident was finalised in October that year.

Legal action was taken on May 5, 2015, within the one-year limitation required under law.

Mr O'Connell said Mr Hill's report was not finished until June 2015 and labelled any suggestion the Inspectorate did not fully investigate in that time frame as "unfair".

"I think you might be doing a disservice to the department when they have a time limit to commence proceeding," Mr O'Connell said.

Mr Rebetzke maintained it was unsatisfactory if an ISHR is not invited to participate in the whole investigation process and must rely on his own inquiries to compile a separate report.

"That is undesirable in the interest of justice," Mr Rebetzke said.

"My client's issue is that it was not consulted at all about … whether charges would be laid against parties who were charges."

The inquest continues.

UPDATE TUESDAY 11AM: LAWYERS for mining giant Anglo Coal have indicated they will object to parts of a union report that will be referred to during the Central Queensland mine death inquest of Paul McGuire.

CFMMEU industry safety and health representative Jason Hill, who authored the report, will be called to give evidence on day three of the coronial probe in Mackay Coroners Court.

Mr McGuire, 34, died almost immediately after opening a goaf at Grasstree mine in 2014.

Silk Peter Roney, who is representing mine operator Anglo Coal, said he had told counsel assist John Aberdeen that "at some point" he would raise an objection to the tendering of parts of Mr Hill's report.

"The report ... contains a number of assertions throughout the document and, particularly towards the end of the document, whole sections in which he expresses his opinion about whether various offences have been committed of various kinds by various individuals," Mr Roney told Mackay Coroners Court.

"We would be opposing the tender of those parts of that report or indeed any evidence which was to similar effect."

Mr Roney said the report also addressed a number of matters that would seem "to go well beyond" the scope of the inquest.

Coroner David O'Connell said if issues were highlighted that went outside those set to be examined by the inquest "we won't be going down there".

"I just wish all parties to ... keep uppermost in mind, I'm running an inquest into the death of Mr McGuire and how that occurred and how we can prevent it," he said.

"I'm not here to referee the issues which might arise between your client and the coal mining union. This is not the venue for those."

The first witness to be called later this morning is former Mines Inspectorate investigator Andrew Broadfoot.

INITIAL: AN INQUEST into the Central Queensland mine death of Paul McGuire will begin this morning.

The father of two died after being engulfed by lethal air upon entering a goaf at Grasstree Mine on May 6, 2014.

He had been directed to work on a gas sensor and died almost instantly after inhaling methane gas.

Up to 16 witnesses will be called over three days including representatives from the Mines Inspectorate, Anglo Coal, the Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy and the CFMMEU.

One of the issues to be explored during the inquest will be who should decide whether charges should be dropped in mining fatality cases.

 

RELATED STORIES:

Inquest to examine Anglo Coal electrician's death

Mine deaths might become 'cost of doing business'

Mine worker not warned of lethal goaf danger

Mine death sparks call for specialist prosecutor



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