Pike River families are hailing today as a “moral victory” after MPs from four parties pledged to act immediately to re-enter the West Coast mine if in government.
Environment Minister Nick Smith calls it a political stunt that doesn’t change the risks.
. . Prime Minister Bill English gave a commitment to the Pike River families earlier this year that the Government would see through safe, unmanned entry to the area of the drift that had not been accessed.
“This work would be delayed if taken off Solid Energy and given to some new agency. It is a hollow political stunt for parties to promise manned re-entry of the mine by the end of 2018. A political statement does not change the risks in the mine. It would be reckless for politicians to override the 800-page detailed assessment that concluded that manned entry deep into this drift was too risky to life.
“This political commitment of manned entry of the complete drift by the end of 2018 could not be done under New Zealand’s workplace law – a law supported by these very parties. They are either making empty promises to the Pike families or are proposing to water down a law intended to prevent future workplace tragedies.
“There is no cover-up. There is no conspiracy. Pike River was a horrible industrial accident that unnecessarily killed 29 men. The greatest duty we owe the memory of these men is to take the risks of explosions in gassy coalmines seriously and to comply with the new workplace safety laws that stemmed from the Royal Commission of Inquiry.”
Employment law was changed because of the Pike River disaster. Under that law no-one in Solid Energy could countenance anyone entering the mine and changing the law to allow it would be a travesty.
The pledge is an immoral victory and the undertaking by the MPs is irresponsible. All it does is give false hope to the bereaved.
No lives should be risked to bring out whatever remains of the men who died in the mine.