Time for Elder to front - MP

State-owned Enterprise Minister Tony Ryall says he has no problem with former Solid Energy boss Don Elder being summoned to Parliament for a grilling.

Members of the commerce select committee will decide whether to accept Labour's calls for an inquiry into the collapse of the state-owned mining company, which is under a crippling $389 million debt pile.

National Party MPs have been refusing to take calls or comment on the issue all morning, but a short time ago Ryall issued a statement making it clear he would not oppose an appearance.

"It's a matter for the commerce select committee, Solid Energy and Dr Elder whether or not Dr Elder attends, but I don't have a problem either way," Ryall said.

Earlier Labour confirmed it is seeking an inquiry into Solid Energy and also aims to summon Elder to give evidence.

The party's senior MP on the commerce committee, Clayton Cosgrove, said the party was writing to committee chairman Jonathan Young to request an inquiry and if necessary to issue a subpoena to Dr Elder, who is still being paid his old salary of $1.3m a year to work from home for two months to help the company with his memory of events. He has not given evidence to the committee.

"Solid Energy's collapse is a huge concern to the public. New Zealanders deserve answers on how this successful company turned into a basket case," he said.

Labour wanted an inquiry into "the clearly deep-rooted problems in this company".

New Solid Energy chairman Mark Ford and acting chief executive Garry Diack appeared before the committee yesterday but were unable to answer many of the questions related to the company's past actions.

"The current chair and interim chief executive are new to the roles and can't answer questions adequately, through no fault of their own," Cosgrove said.

He said Elder must appear before the committee.

"Solid Energy has said he is free to do so. If he does not wish to appear I will ask the committee to issue a subpoena for him to attend. It's time for answers," Cosgrove said.

None of the National Party MPs on the select committee have responded to requests for comment, aside from list MP Dr Jian Yang who declined to comment.

The Press