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Qld pushes for Medicare help on black lung

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Jamie McKinnell

Queensland's mines minister Anthony Lynham is pushing for Medicare-funded chest X-rays for retired coal miners to help tackle the re-emergence of black lung disease.

The number of cases of black lung - official known as pneumoconiosis - discovered in Queensland stands at 14, but the CFMEU believes there could be dozens more.

Mr Lynham last week met with his state, territory and federal counterparts in Canberra to discuss a national strategy.

He said black lung was a national issue with national implications.

"This is a disease that develops over time and miners or retired miners may no longer be living in the coal-mining state where they worked," he told parliament on Tuesday.

"That is why I am seeking Medicare-funded chest X-rays for coal miners who are retired or otherwise no longer working in the industry."

Queensland and NSW agreed to work together on a national screening system for underground miners at the meeting.

A report into how Queensland deals with black lung last month found systemic failures at "virtually all levels" and prompted a government overhaul.

Dr Lynham acknowledged there was an "enormous amount of work ahead".

Coal companies were offering new chest X-rays or re-reading of X-rays that are less than two years old.

Those films were being checked by both Australian and US-based readers, Dr Lynham said.

"Already, 88 X-rays have been digitally transferred to the US for second reading since this double-checking process was introduced last month," he said.

There are currently 5500 underground workers in Queensland and 10,000 open-cut workers.

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