After visiting the Pike River picket line today Andrew Little said he would table a bill in Parliament that would remove an obstacle to re-entry into the Pike River mine.
Labour leader Andrew Little plans to 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.
This doesn’t guarantee re-entry, it would just remove one obstacle.
Little had earlier said that he supported an independent investigation to see if mine re-entry was safe enough to attempt.
He said that if the Government did not allow his bill to proceed he would add it to the Members’ ballot.
During a visit to Greymouth today, Little said he had a solution.
“We can actually deal with that threat of liability for the [Solid Energy] directors by legislating to prevent that happening in this particular case.
“What I pledged to the families is that on the first day of Parliament I will seek leave to table a bill that does just that.”
He added: “It removes any risk of liability for the directors of Solid Energy in relation to any attempt at re-entry for the purpose of recovering remains or any bodies in the drift leading to the mine.
“And I’m working on that bill now, I’ll have that ready to go on the 6th of February.”
He won’t be tabling the bill on February 6, that’s a Monday and also a public holiday (Waitangi Day).
Speaking in Parliament last year, English said Pike River was the “most dangerous workplace in New Zealand“, and approving a re-entry would go against the very health and safety laws passed by Parliament in response to the disaster.
English said Little himself had lobbied for the safety changes.
“The member should understand the legislation which he advocated for, which brings together judgement about safety and legal responsibility for anyone in that workplace,” he said.
“So whatever any independent expert says, someone who is responsible for anyone who might go into that mine are legally responsibly for their lives.”
So Little is proposing an exception to the safety laws he lobbied for.