WINSTON PETERS: Pike River - English didn't do the decent thing


It’s six years since the Pike River deaths.

But this week, in response to a request from victims’ families for a meeting, the PM said he needed “more time to assess the situation”.

Another six years perhaps?

There is no more time, the mine is being sealed in the New Year.

The respectful and courteous thing for Mr English would have been to meet the families there and then on Tuesday. As does happen he did bump into Bernie Monk, who speaks on behalf of most of the Pike River families.

Mr English belatedly promised to meet the families before Christmas.

First off he should have listened to the families’ concerns about state-owned Solid Energy’s intention of concreting the mine entrance.

They travelled all the way to Wellington, no doubt at some expense, and if, as Mr English claimed he needed time to assess the situation, what has he and the government been doing since Solid Energy first made it known they were permanently sealing the mine?

Pike River is a dark blot on the history of New Zealand and symbolises the appalling depths to which worker safety plunged after National drastically weakened the mining safety laws in the 1990s and left it to corporations to “take all practicable steps” on worker safety.

Heads should have rolled over the Pike River deaths - they haven’t. The families want closure - but cannot get it.

New Zealand First is standing beside them.

Expert opinion prepared by David Creedy, a vice-chair of the UN Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane and former UK Principal Mines Inspector Bob Stevenson states it is safe to re-enter the mine, and we believe them.

New Zealand First said it was confident with reports and would be happy to enter the mine.

This week a coalminer who worked underground at the Pike River mine emailed New Zealand First.

“Thank you very much for standing up,” he said. “I believe also there is a cover-up.”

He ended his email by stating: “Get some truth.”

We are doing our best.

source: data archive