19 Nov 2018

National government should apologise for failures at Pike River - Little

7:43 am on 19 November 2018

The Minister responsible for Pike River re-entry, Andrew Little, says the previous government should make a public apology for its failures at the mine.

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Andrew Little said the Department of Labour let down the Pike River families in the aftermath of the tragedy. Photo: Supplied

The government's independent adviser on the mine recovery operation, Rob Fyfe, has called for such an apology to the families of the 29 men who died in the mine explosions in 2010.

Mr Little said there were a number of failures in the aftermath of the disaster, including by the Department of Labour which was responsible for overall health and safety.

"It totally let down the families, the Pike River families, then in the aftermath of the tragedy, the failure to prosecute and the kind of dodgy buy-out that happened that the Supreme Court has now ruled that is unlawful.

"The promise made to the families to do everything possible but then not fulfilling that promise."

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unlawful for WorkSafe to withdraw its prosecution of Pike River mine boss Peter Whittall in exchange for payments to the victims' families.

WorkSafe New Zealand initially laid 12 health and safety charges against Mr Whittall, but they were dropped after more than $3 million was paid to the victims' families.

On Wednesday, the government it will proceed with the re-entry of the Pike River Mine in February next year.

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