8 Nov 2012

Labour's pressure on Wilkinson backfires

5:50 pm on 8 November 2012

An attempt by the Labour Party to pressure the Government about when a minister should resign from the Cabinet has backfired.

Labour has been calling for Kate Wilkinson to lose all her Cabinet roles, rather than just the Labour portfolio following the Pike River inquiry outcome.

Ms Wilkinson quit her Labour portfolio on Monday because the Royal Commission report on the Pike River mine disaster was damning of the department she had responsibility for.

Twenty-nine men were killed at the West Coast mine following a series of explosions that began on 19 November 2010. Only two workers survived after managing to get out of the mine following the initial blast.

The Department of Labour came in for particularly heavy criticism for failing to properly supervise operations at the mine.

In Parliament on Thursday, Labour's spokesman for Primary Industries Damien O'Connor pursued the Government about why Ms Wilkinson is still in Cabinet.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English replied that Ms Wilkinson took responsibility for her department's failure and said that was more than could be said for Mr O'Connor.

Mr English told the House Mr O'Connor refused to resign as Corrections Minister when teenager Liam Ashley was killed in the back of a prison van by an inmate in 2006 because he wanted to stay on to fix the problem.

Mr English said there was no evidence that Ms Wilkinson's actions or inactions contributed to the mine disaster.