Ministry launches Pike River probe

Last updated 12:22 27/11/2012

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An investigation has been launched into whether failings by staff of the former Ministry of Economic Development contributed to the deaths of 29 men in an explosion at Pike River mine.

Terms of Reference for the investigation were released today and follow a damning Royal Commission of Inquiry into the tragedy.

The inquiry found that mine bosses put production before safety and also lambasted failings at the former Department of Labour, which is now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The ministry confirmed today that chief executive David Smol had commissioned an independent report into:

* Any actions, or inactions of individual employees connected with the issue of the mining permit and or the discharge of health and safety functions that may have contributed to the tragedy

* Any systemic failings within the former Department of Labour and or the former Ministry of Economic Development that may be identified as having contributed to such actions or inactions of individuals

* Whether any such actions of inactions may warrant a formal employment investigation.

The investigation will be carried out by David Shanks of the Ministry of Social Development and a second person, yet to be confirmed.

It will cover the operating and decision making environment at both the Ministry of Economic Development and Department of Labour in the years leading up to the mine disaster.

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