At least 135 stonemasons have been diagnosed with the potentially deadly lung disease, silicosis, prompting fears of an asbestos-level health crisis. Silicosis occurs when silica dust particles are inhaled during the “dry cutting” of the engineered stone product, used for stone benchtops, and damage the lungs. Stonemasons from Queensland and Victoria have joined a national class action by Slater and Gordon against manufacturers of the stone product. The Slater and Gordon spokesperson said benchtop suppliers did not adequately convey risks or implement safety precautions. At least one person involved in the class action has died from the disease, and 15 more cases are considered terminal.
The United States department of energy has rebranded fossil fuels as “molecules of US freedom” and natural gas as “freedom gas” in a disturbing echo of Orwell’s New-speak being applied to the lexicon of energy and climate change. The new names were used on Tuesday when the department approved a liquified natural gas export project in Texas. In a statement attributed to the under secretary of the department of energy, Mark W. Menezes, the department said the new export capacity was “critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy.”
The minimum wage in Australia is set to rise 3 per cent off the back a Fair Work Commission ruling. About 2.2 million Australians on the minimum wage currently will get an extra $21.60 a week in their pay. Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross said economic conditions justified the rise: "We are satisfied the level of increase we have decided upon will not lead to any adverse inflationary outcome and nor will it have any measurable negative impact on employment," he said. The changes will come into effect from July 1.
The Queensland environment department is today expected to sign off on ($) Adani’s management plan for the endangered black-throated finch. The location of the mining giant’s Carmichael mine is home to the largest population of the southern subspecies. Adani was required to detail how it would manage and reduce any threat to the birds in the area. The previous management plan submission was rejected earlier this month by the Queensland government, which sought more information on bird population and available food in the area. If the new plan is approved, the next step for Adani will be to obtain approval for a groundwater management plan before a deadline of June 13.
In sport, the men’s cricket World Cup began in England last night with a local triumph over South Africa, while only a week remains ahead of the kick-off for the women’s World Cup of football, across the channel, in France. Two of the Matildas players have pledged to donate 1 per cent of their earnings to social causes. English men’s football teams meanwhile continue their guaranteed cakewalk at the top of both major European club competitions this year, after Chelsea thumped Arsenal 4-1 in the Europa League final in Baku on Thursday. Two other English Premier League teams, Tottenham and Liverpool, will contest the final of the European Champions League in Madrid on Sunday. Notwithstanding the British penchant for retreating from international affairs, the head coaches, or managers, from the four EPL teams in the European finals, are, actually foreigners - hailing from Italy, Spain, Germany and Argentina.