Pike River father says PM has written families off

10:03 pm on 9 October 2012

An angry Pike River father says the Prime Minister has written off the families' latest chance to get the bodies of 29 workers out of the mine.

Bernie Monk, whose son died in the explosions at the West Coast coal mine in November 2010, met with John Key in Greymouth on Tuesday to discuss options to retrieve the bodies.

Mr Monk, a spokesperson for some of the families, says he was told by owner Solid Energy on Monday that it would support them if they came up with people willing to re-enter the mine to search for bodies at least as far as an area of rockfall.

He says Mr Key told him on Tuesday that this would be too expensive and the Government would not be willing to help pay for it.

Bernie Monk says that money for the recovery was put aside when the mine was sold.

"The money's already there - so it's not coming out of the country's pocket, it's not coming out of anybody's pocket ... and he just totally ignored me, he showed no interest in it whatsoever and I was absolutely gutted.

"I just couldn't believe that he just wrote us off like that ... I was hoping that he'd listen to us and tell us to go ahead."

Mr Monk says he got the impression that the Pike River mine was no longer a priority for the Prime Minister - but told Mr Key that if he thinks that the issue will go away, it won't happen.

Mr Monk also says the 2014 date that Solid Energy is putting on any possible recovery is too far away.

John Key later told Television New Zealand he can understand Bernie Monk's frustration.

"But really the situation hasn't changed. The Government's always said there would need to be a safe and credible plan.

"We can't put at risk the lives of other people going into the mine unless we're absolutely sure that it's the safe thing to do."

Mr Key says he will discuss Mr Monk's proposals with his advisers.