Key defends Pike River commission

Last updated 22:18 21/11/2012

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Prime Minister John Key has defended the work of the Royal Commission into the Pike River disaster after criticism from the mine's under-fire directors.

And he said charges could still be against the Pike River Coal board.
 
In a statement  John Dow, Ray Meyer and Stuart Nattrass strongly disagreed with the commission's findings, released in a damning report earlier this month.
 
The report saw the department of Labour hauled over the coals and minister Kate Wilkinson quit.
 
Pike River directors were slammed for ignoring the warning signs in the lead up to the explosion which killed 29 miners two years ago.
 
Key, speaking from Cambodia, said he had "enormous confidence" in those who worked on the Royal Commission. "It's not for me to judge the rights and wrongs, but obviously the directors are putting up a different proposition."
 
The Government will follow the recommendations the Commission. The directors had their own perspective on the "rights and wrongs" of the findings. "They are entitled to give a view, but that doesn't mean they are right," he said.
 
"At this point there is only a legal process being undertaken against [chief executive] Peter Whittall. It's always possible that there is legal action to follow against the directors. That's not for the Government to instigate ... ,'' he added.
 
The Government was held to account, Key said.

"We accepted that, we took it on the chin and that lead to a minister resigning and will lead to other actions from the Government.
 
"So we've certainly accepted their findings, others have a different view. They may be right but that's for them to ultimately defend their actions."
 
The directors' statement said the suggestion that profit was put ahead of workers' safety was ''conjecture'' and at odds with evidence put to the commission.

''Despite the considerable amount of evidence made available to it, its report does not identify any particular circumstances, or any documents, in which a safety requirement was not met for financial reasons or because it might have impacted on production,'' the statement said.

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