What have we learned five years on from Pike River tragedy?

On the fifth anniversary of the Pike River tragedy, the Green Party has condemned the Government for reneging on its promise to recover the dead men’s remains, and for failing to hold anyone accountable for the disaster, or to honour the men with workplace safety laws to ensure nothing like this could happen again.

“Five years ago today, 29 men tragically and needlessly lost their lives at Pike River mine,” West Coast based Green MP Kevin Hague said.

“The one thing the Government could have done to honour the men who died would have been to beef up the rules around health and safety in the workplace to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

“Instead, this Government has watered down Pike River Royal Commission’s excellent recommendations, introducing arbitrary and ridiculous exemptions from the requirement for workplaces to have health and safety representatives, in effect doing the least it possibly could get away with.

“The families of the men who tragically died at Pike River were sufficiently outraged that they went to Parliament to protest the Government’s gutting of the Bill, but to its disgrace, the Government snubbed them.

“The families of the men who died have suffered enormous pain that will never go away. They were promised by the Prime Minister that every effort would be made to recover the remains of their loved ones.

“Yet despite expert opinion that the men’s remains can be recovered without undue risk, the Government has shamefully washed its hands of any attempt to recover them.

“The Inquiry into the disaster found numerous causes contributed to the explosion, including serious failures by both Pike River Coal management and the former Department of Labour.

“Yet no-one has been held accountable, and the deal that saw Peter Whittall have criminal charges against him dropped in return for making a $3.4 million payment means that no-one ever will – another blow for the families of the men who died. 

“When the Greens are in Government, workplace health and safety will be one of our highest priorities, starting with changing the law to fully implement the recommendations of the Pike River Royal Commission.

“The families of those who died at Pike River five years ago, and of all others who have died in their workplaces, deserve nothing less,” Mr Hague said.