Shortland MP Pat Conroy labels One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts 'a grub' over black lung disease comments

DARE: Pat Conroy in federal parliament. Picture: Andrew Meares
DARE: Pat Conroy in federal parliament. Picture: Andrew Meares

MEMBER for Shortland Pat Conroy has labelled One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts “a grub” over the senator’s comments about black lung disease.

The Labor MP said he rose to condemn the One Nation senator’s comment, made in the senate, that: “Black lung is not an inherent problem when it is managed properly.”

Mr Conroy told the House of Representatives that the “dangerous comments” must be refuted.

“For a senator obsessed with ‘empirical evidence’ he can’t get basic facts right,” Mr Conroy said.

“Mr Speaker, I represent the Hunter region, the oldest and greatest coal producing region in our country, a region which employs around 18,000 coal miners.

“To see a resurgence of this horribly deadly disease in Australia within the last few years is significant and disturbing.

“Twenty-one cases of black lung in Queensland have been confirmed, and earlier this year, a retired Hunter Valley coalminer was diagnosed with black lung – the first since the 1970s.”

Mr Conroy had some advice and a dare for the senator.

“Senator Roberts’ comments represent an incredible ignorance of the issue, and instead of using the horror of black lung to grandstand about the Adani coal mine, and attack unions he should support tougher safety regulations and improved oversight to prevent and contain this disease,” he said.

“I dare him to have the guts to repeat those comments at the annual miners memorial day that commemorates the 1,800 men, women and children as young as eleven that have died in Hunter coal mines.

“Shame on you Senator Roberts, you truly are a grub.”