The blame lies with National | The Jackal

5 Nov 2012

The blame lies with National

The Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy has released its findings today, and the Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson has resigned from one of her portfolios.

The right wing are claiming that she resigned because it's the honorable thing to do, and there's no actual wrong-doing on the part of the government.

This is of course complete rubbish, and one only has to read the Commissions Conclusion on the inspection of mine records to see they're full of it.

Here's the Commissions conclusion into the regulation of Pike River Mine:

  • The inspectors obtained only limited snapshots of the mine's physical systems during inspections, and possessed insufficient information to make an informed judgement concerning the level of compliance at Pike River.
  • It was also essential to conduct targeted audits of the documented mine system and operational information, but the inspectors had no system, training or time to undertake this work.
  • Nonetheless, the inspectors assumed that the mine was compliant and indeed that Pike was a 'best practice’ company.
  • The Inspectors used only negotiated agreements and then did not always record agreed actions in accordance with DOL’s operating procedures; nor did agreements stipulate a date for the performance of such actions.
  • If the inspectors had properly understood the level of compliance at the mine, they would not have used only negotiated agreements but a range of compliance/enforcement options.
  • The inspectors found the requirement that employers use 'all practicable steps' to comply with their obligations under Regulations 23 and 28 of the Health and Safety in Employment (Mining – Underground) Regulations 1999 difficult to interpret, and feared that any compliance action could result in a successful court challenge.
  • The provision of a second egress from the mine was so serious as to require the issue of a prohibition notice.
81. These conclusions should be viewed in the context of the environment within which the inspectors were forced to operate. In an answer under cross-examination Mr Poynter said, ‘We were dysfunctional in that we reported to separate managers. We had one advisor who had no coal background, although he was technically very good … and there was no co-ordinated approach even … we weren’t resourced and we weren’t particularly well set up to be able to provide the service that we were expected to provide.’ 90 The commission agrees with these comments, and emphasises the need to consider this section alongside Chapter 22, ‘The decline of the mining inspectorate’.

82. The above conclusions represent an assessment of the DOL’s actual oversight of the mine. Another question is whether a well led and operationally competent regulator would have acted more decisively at Pike River. The commission considers it is probable that an effective regulator would have issued a prohibition notice when Pike commenced hydro mining in September 2010 without a usable second outlet (egress) from the mine. The notice would have stopped hydro mining until the planned second intake (to double as a walkout egress) was developed and importantly would have provided the opportunity for the development of improved ventilation and methane control within the mine.

So Nationals funding cuts ensured the inspectorate couldn't undertake its job properly, and with a proper regulator, the disaster might not have occurred. No wonder Kate Wilkinson has resigned from the position then. In my opinion, she should also resign as a Minister.

Being that Gerry Brownlee as the previous Minister of Labour reduced funding for the DOL, he should resign as well. Brownlee after all ensured that the DOL couldn't undertake its responsibilities properly. But as usual nobody will be held to account, because National has no standards... In fact they're a sham of a political party.