Why and when was this Inquiry established?

Effective 22 May 2020, the Minister established the Board of Inquiry (under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999) about a serious accident that occurred at Grosvenor mine on 6 May 2020 and various high potential incidents involving longwall-related exceedances of methane that occurred in the Queensland coal mining industry between 1 July 2019 and 5 May 2020.

How was the inquiry scope determined?

The scope of the Board’s investigation was set by the Inquiry’s terms of reference (PDF, 278.7KB).

Who were the Board Members leading the Inquiry?

Retired District Court Judge Terry Martin SC was the Chairperson and Board Member.

Andrew Clough was the other Board Member.

What is Counsel Assisting the Board of Inquiry?

Counsel Assisting is a term used for barristers appointed by the Board to facilitate the Inquiry. Counsel Assisting gather information and assemble and present the evidence in the conduct of the inquiry.

What is leave to appear?

A person may be granted permission to appear at the Inquiry in accordance with the Practice Guidelines.

How did the Board obtain information?

The Board obtained information through assistance from the community, interviews of people with knowledge of relevant facts, testimony at public hearings, documentary evidence and research.

What happens at public hearings?

Witnesses are asked by Counsel Assisting to provide evidence under oath or declaration. Parties with leave to appear have the opportunity to cross examine witnesses.

Are hearings open to the public as observers?

Hearings were open to the public unless the Board determined that a hearing was required to be held in private due to special circumstances.

Hearings were live streamed from the Board’s website.

Public hearings

What is a public hearing?

A public hearing is conducted in a similar way to court proceedings. Witnesses are called to assist the investigation by providing evidence and being questioned publicly.

Who can attend a public hearing?

Anyone can attend a public hearing and observe its proceedings.

Where were hearings held?

Public hearings were held in Court 17 of the Brisbane Magistrates Court in August 2020 and March to April 2021.

Why are public hearings held?

Hearings provide an opportunity for evidence to be tested by relevant parties, and being conducted in public enables the community to see and hear the witnesses providing important evidence.

What information was presented at the public hearings?

The public hearings in August concerned the role of the Inspectorate, the role of the industry and site safety and health representatives, how the management structure and employment arrangements of the mining companies may impact on mine safety, as well as the methane exceedances at Grasstree, Moranbah North and Oaky North mines.

The March/April hearings concerned the serious accidents at Grosvenor mine on 6 May 2020, the 27 methane exceedances that occurred at the mine between 1 July 2019 and 5 May 2020, and the practice of continuous inertisation of active goafs.

What is meant by leave to appear at public hearings?

A person or body claiming to have a special interest in the Inquiry and therefore asking permission to have the right to:

  • question, relatively, any witnesses called by Counsel Assisting
  • ask for Counsel Assisting to call other particular witnesses
  • make submissions about the evidence placed before the Board.

A person who is given leave to appear may be represented before the Inquiry by a lawyer or agent.

Leave to appear should not be confused with the situation where a person is only attending public hearings as an observer or providing information to the Inquiry in advance of hearings.

Last updated: 30 Jun 2022