An independent work environment leader was supposed to step down immediately after pursuing other opportunities at a resources multinational.
Kate du Preez should have resigned straight after accepting a new job at Anglo American. This is the assessment of Queensland Shadow Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Pat Weir, who believes the former Resources Safety and Health commissioner’s integrity became compromised by becoming the company’s next head of sustainability and corporate affairs.
“There was a definite conflict of interest and the minister [Scott Stewart] needs to explain how she was able to stay in that job. I do not know how you could say it is not a conflict of interest … because Anglo has issues,” Weir said according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The remarks came after an explosion that injured five employees at Anglo American’s Grosvenor Coal Mine, 199km southwest of Mackay. Victims suffered severe burns, kidney failure and lung blood-clots from the blast. Other workers still feel traumatised by the incident on 6 May 2020.
Subsequent investigations from the Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor led to no charges against the proponent. A Queensland parliamentary inquiry was later held in 2022 into coal mining industry safety, and handed down 11 recommendations.
However, the Resources Safety and Health Commissioner’s Office revealed its advisors from Crown Law found no conflict of interest, because Preez’s new role involves no workplace health and safety duties.
“[Preez is not] responsible for administering the suite of resources safety and health legislation, nor has any involvement in prosecutions or the regulation of safety and health in the resources industry,” a spokesperson said according to the broadcaster.
AMSJ understands Preez’s predecessor Victoria Somlyay earlier met with Resources Safety and Health Queensland CEO Mark Stone and minister Stewart at the beginning of the 2022 inquiry. The minister’s office more recently confirmed Preez announced her resignation on 13 October 2023.
“Kate du Preez has been a champion for safety within the resources industry in Queensland and she brings an incredible skillset from a long career in the mining industry,” Anglo Australia CEO Dan van der Westhuizen said in a public statement.
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