Government respond to Little’s Pike River pledge

Yesterday Opposition leader Andrew Little said he would table a bill in Parliament removing liability from the directors of Solid Energy so that the Pike River Mine can be re-entered.

He said the government claimed the mine could not be re-entered because of the liability risk, so on the first day of the new parliamentary year he would seek leave to table his bill.

That would exonerate Solid Energy’s directors from being held liable for any harm to people taking part in the mine re-entry, he said.

Mr Little said the victims’ families were promised everything that could be done to recover their loved ones’ bodies would be done, and the government needed to follow through on that.

– Little bill to enable Pike River re-entry

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith responded today.

RNZ: Govt: Labour’s Pike River plan ‘hypocritical’

The Labour Party’s attitude to re-entering the Pike River Mine is hypocritical and unsafe, according to the government.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith accused Mr Little of a dangerous and contradictory position.

“It would be extraordinary to make an exemption from the Health and Safety at Work Act at the very place where 29 workers lost their lives from inadequate standards that triggered the new law,” Mr Smith said.

“This is a bid by Mr Little to outplay [New Zealand First leader] Winston Peters politically rather than taking a principled stand about the importance of a consistent approach to workplace safety.”

Dr Smith said his advice showed the mine had 100,000 cubic metres of methane and was likely to have a residual source of heat as well.

This would be capable of triggering an explosion if there was a source of oxygen.

The minister added there was a risk of rock falls from unstable strata fractured by the 2010 explosions.

“There is a significant difference between someone saying re-entry might be possible compared with company directors taking legal responsibility,” Dr Smith said.

There’s been a lot of other criticism of Little’s move. He lobbied for stronger safety provisions in the current law, and now wants to put them aside to allow re-entry into an unsafe environment.

Some of the Pike River families have tried to escalate mine re-entry into an election issue, but it’s early in the year and it will be difficult to sustain the party posturing.

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3 Comments

  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  19th January 2017

    Everything that could be done surely means everything that can be done within reason. If going in CAN’T be done without great risk, then everything that could be done HAS been done.

    Reply
  2. PDB

     /  19th January 2017

    “It would be extraordinary to make an exemption from the Health and Safety at Work Act at the very place where 29 workers lost their lives from inadequate standards that triggered the new law,” Mr Smith said.

    Sums it up perfectly.

    Reply
    • John Schmidt

       /  19th January 2017

      This behaviour is synonymous of the left. These same thoughts translates into all areas of government business taking a we know best attitude taking over the running of everything rather than letting the market get on with it taking government policy and governance into account in their decision making.
      Reading the Obama series of postings and in behind every story is the same basic principle of a government getting into the doing space and cocking it all up rather than remaining in the policy and governance space. The subtle difference between National and Labour.

      Reply

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