Dust, Contractors, Politics and Silicosis: Conflicting Narratives and the Queensland Royal Commission into Miners' Phthisis, 1911
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In 1909-10 the Queensland Parliamentary Labor Party was rebuilding its strength from the Opposition benches after a damaging split with its former leader, William Kidston, who continued as premier in alliance with more conservative politicians. Reflecting the cocnerns of hard-rock miners, the party campaigned to ameliorate the occupational disease silicosis (miners' phthisis). In December 1910 a Royal Commission was appointed to enquire into this 'evil', This opportunity was squandered by the commission's conservative findings, the government's action in placing responsibility for dust suppression on tributers and contractors and the reluctance of mining unions to alientate the latter groups by making silicosis an industrial issue. This article attempts t o recover employer and employee narratives that helped shape this pivotal event whose legacy cast a long shadow over the lives of Queensland mining families
Australian Historical Studies
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