Government has 'failed' Pike River families

PIKE FAIL: Labour MP for West Coast- Tasman questions Damien O'Connor questions whether everything has been done to ...
JOHN BISSET

PIKE FAIL: Labour MP for West Coast- Tasman questions Damien O'Connor questions whether everything has been done to recover the bodies of the Pike River mine explosion victims.

The Government has failed the families of the men who died in the Pike River mine explosion, say opposition MPs.

Labour's MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O'Connor said It would be forever on the conscience of the prime minister whether he did all he could to recover the men.

"The Prime Minister promised the victim's families the Government would do 'everything we practically could to get the bodies of the victims out'," O'Connor said.

He said Key should tell the public whether he believed that had been done given WorkSafe NZ told Solid Energy it had identified 'no operational barriers to re-entering the drift' and that British mines expert Bob Stevenson said he was willing to go into the mine himself.

O'Connor also pointed to Standards New Zealand's Hazardous Areas Electrical Coordination Committee chair Garry House who said he believed the mine could be re-entered 'even full of gas'.

"While it has been Solid Energy who have made the decision today, the Government must take full responsibility for the events that led to this disaster, the management of the potential re-entry plan and ultimately today's abandonment of any possible recovery of the 29 dead men," O'Connor said.

Green Party West Coast MP Kevin Hague said Prime Minister John Key failed the families when he handed over the recovery effort to the private sector.

"What director on a board, whose job it is to maximise profitability and who is likely to be worried about personal liability, would ever want to bear that risk? John Key should never have given the Pike families assurances that he was unable to keep, Hague said.

"This is a tragedy where commercial interests ultimately won out over the rights of grieving families."

He said despite the assurances of independent mine experts and WorkSafe NZ that the mine was safe to enter, the risk threshold that the commercial sector would apply to the re-entry decision was always going to be set too high.

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 - Stuff

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Pike River: Solid Energy Q&A

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