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The Standard

On the Pike Report

Written By: - Date published: 10:05 pm, November 5th, 2012 - 99 comments
Categories: Mining, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

I’ve got to say I’m pleased to see the recommendations of the Pike River report and the fact that it looks like the government will be putting them in place.

I’m not so happy about the reaction to the the resignation of Kate Wilkinson. She’s not brave, and her losing the labour portfolio doesn’t change the fact that the government that blocked changes that would quite likely have stopped the pike tragedy from happening.

This is about more than just Kate Wilkinson. It’s about a political and business culture that has turned concerns for health and safety into a “political correctness gone mad” joke – at a cost of the lives and limbs of Kiwi workers.

It’s not a joke I find funny at all. Certainly not as funny as Gerry Brownlee did when the government kicked mine safety changes to touch:

99 comments on “On the Pike Report”

  1. karol 1

    That video of Gerry Brownlee is damning – and very sobering.  I hope he also is held to account for such a cavalier attitude to health and safety.

    • Red Rosa 1.1

      +1

      No doubt there are gaps in Labour’s record up to 2008. But that report, and his rubbishing of it, puts Brownlee right on the spot. He opened Pike River and has been Minister of Energy and Resources (though not demonstrating much of either) since 2008 to date.

      • Fortran 1.1.1

        Trevor, Trevor come out wherever you are !
        Why did you sign off the agreement to the opening of the Pike River Mine when you were Miniister of Labour, if it was unsafe ?

  2. Wilkinson’s resignation is like a slap with a wet bus ticket,a non event,her work load just
    got less, the real heads that should roll are hiding behind her.
    What i can see comming is huge costs being awarded to families of the victims, through
    various sources involved in this,those costs will be massive.
    My thoughts and love go out to the families of the pike river victims.

    • Jackal 2.1

      Yes! Considering the Commissions findings, I think there could well be a claim by the families that National will drag through the courts with even more delay tactics. They won’t simply admit their wrongdoing, as Key’s trying to shift blame solely onto the company yesterday demonstrated.

      Gerry Brownlee thought Labours review on mine safety was a joke… Well nobodies laughing now. In the cold light of day and with the facts at hand, Brownlee should be gone before lunchtime. He won’t be, mainly because John Key is a spineless worm without any intention of holding Ministers to a higher standard.

      I sometimes wonder how these neo-liberal fucktwits live with themselves?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        I sometimes wonder how these neo-liberal fucktwits live with themselves?

        Psychopaths feel neither guilt nor shame.

      • Reagan Cline 2.1.2

        The owners of the Pike River Coal Company are responsible for the lack of safety measures on their property that led to the disaster.

        • OneTrack 2.1.2.1

          Dont spoil a good opportunity to moan about the nacts. I blame Simon Lusk and Crosby Textor.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.2

          Reagan – I agree entirely: it’s time to get the Pike River company directors and to get Whittall on the stand for manslaughter.

          Do you think National will front up and push through measures to allow this?

          • karol 2.1.2.2.1

            Yes.  Finlayson said in the House today that he is considering corproate manslaughter.  But, of course, the government is happy to put all the blame on Pike River.  It shifts the focus from their contribution to the disaster.

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.2.1.1

              Ahh. In this case, I think it would actually be suitable and lasting penance for the National Government.

              Such an addition to the Crimes Act (along with another one, Corporate Ecocide) would have far reaching impacts on enforcing corporate responsibility.

              Sentencing must involve custodial sentences, not just wet bus ticket fines.

          • PlanetOrphan 2.1.2.2.2

            From memory there was a lot of talk about the inspectors being given the run around when they were there, so it is likely that a prosecution is in the pipeline, The Gnat’s are gauging the wind at the mo.

            The company has a lot to answer for, but as those inspectors where aware of the issues for a long time prior, the Gnats’ have a large amount of culpibility to answer for as well.

            From memory they were trying to get acces to the mine for a year or more and were “Held” up at the gate etc everytime.

    • North 2.2

      Kate “Gone For A Skate” Wilkinson – it’s a bloody stunt – nothing less.

      Meant to show how seriously and earnestly Dunnokeyo’s Cabinet of Higher Standards takes the concept of “responsibility”. And all these eggs are nutting on about how she did the “honourable” thing.

      Utter bullshit !

  3. xtasy 3

    In early 1992 I left NZ very disillusioned, after 10 years of a struggle here, to work, make a living and trying to survive. Back in Europe I got a real “shock” about how living standards there had improved substantially, while I slaved my butt off in little NZ for next to nothing for years.

    After a brief stint back here, I spent time in Europe until early 1997, then returned, to find challenges again, wages still dirt low, hardly worth making any effort for, I trained, got work and slugged it out. Things were not easy, and as over 3 years not much was gained, I was off to Europe again in mid 2000. I got a job there after months, got other jobs later, but it was not easy. So hearing about the supposed “economic boom” in 2004, I thought that NZ finally got itself sorted and came back with hopes.

    Most hopes were dashed soon, then came the slump and recession, and so it went downhill.

    I had been through the “reforms” of Douglas, supported by slime face Prebble, tolerated by Labour and pushed through relentlessly in late 1980s and early 1990s. I was told by Shipley to put in a vege garden if the cut benefit would not pay my way, so I tried that.

    In the end, I had enough of all the shit. NZ has been a repeated bull-shit story to me and many other migrants. Being a “loyal” sort I mostly stuck it out and struggled on, while many other migrants said: “Nuff of this shit!” So they and many Kiwis moved on.

    Where are we now? We had “reforms” that “liberalised” building standards and led to leaky building issues costing NZ billions for years to come. We had the abolition of safety standards in mining and other areas, costing people bad health, accidents, and in some cases death.

    Now, finally, some idiots up top start to realise, after 29 deaths of innocent, hard and honest working miners died, to face the tunes and accept, they have to improve working conditions in mines again.

    NZ is to many I know a total laughing stock, that is overseas, mostly. It has gone down the liberalisation, freeing up bull-shit road for decades, which made some filthily rich, and which destroyed endless other people’s lives.

    So now some may believe this is a turning point. I am afraid, it is just more “cosmetics” by a rat bag, rotten, rich capitalist elite class serving servile merchant government, that has NO soul, NO morals, NO integrity, and that NEVER should have been allowed to run the show in this country. I am bloody angry, and I am NOT ALONE!

    • thatguynz 3.1

      +1000
       
      No you are not alone and you are also very very correct.  People need to realise that this malaise isn’t a left/right issue – both “sides” of the house sip from the same Kool-Aid…  This is a perpetuation of what has been proven to be a very very nasty orthodoxy (albeit highly successful for those that were meant to benefit) that values wealth over people and profit over morals and ethics.
       
      People wonder about the erosion of society and humanity over the past thirty years yet can’t make the mental leap to determining either how and why it has occurred, much less potential options to resolve it.
       
      I truly love my country.  I have no desire to leave and take advantage of the current favourable conditions of out nearest neighbour – god knows that they are on more of a slippery slope than us only they haven’t quite figured that out yet.  I want nothing more than to see this country return to a place where my children can grow up and raise their future children in a peaceful, congenial and fair society that values them as individuals more than it values them as consumers. 
       
      Utopian? – youbetcha.  Realistic? – probably not with any of the existing talking heads within the house, on either “side”.
       
      Just my 2c..

  4. asd 4

    The ironic thing here is that Jenny Shipley, Ruth Richardson and Jim Bolger along with the rest of the early 90s National Governments cabinet are all liable and should be made culpable and accountable for the changes they instigated and legislated for that deregulated the mining industry and relaxed mining inspections in the Labour department at that time. Helen Clarke is also implicitly responsible too for not tightening up the Labour departments regulations when she took over. Kate Wilkinson is just the “fall guy” so it looks as if someone has taken responsibility. Once again past (and current) neo-liberal policy makers take NZ down to new lows.

    • xtasy 4.1

      tarrring and feathering comes to mind, for all the gang(s), starting there, including Douglas, Prebble (traitors), now Brash, Key and consorts, what a great carnival atmosphere within a new, modern day Queen Street “riot” would that be? Even MSM may come out and take a glimpse!

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      I can only reiterate what I said earlier: If a government passes laws that results in predictable deaths then they should be done for murder. It really is as simple as that and none of this resigning to get away with it either.

      Time to have an accountable government.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        Indeed. And if a private sector firm structures things in a similarly predictably harmful way their directors should be done too.

      • insider 4.2.2

        That’s a Ken Ring like nonsense. Anyone loon or vested interest can ‘predict’ deaths and then claim vindication if something, even if unrelated, happens. We’d never have a minister of transport or health on that measure.

        • Jackal 4.2.2.1

          What you should have said is that it’s less likely any government would pass or remove legislation that reduced safety in the workplace. The fact that they could be held personally responsible for their decisions would hopefully be more compelling than the funds industry lobbyists throw around.

        • Colonial Viper 4.2.2.2

          That’s a Ken Ring like nonsense.

          Sorry mate, you’re excusing gross negligence here, expecting competence and thoroughness when lives are on the line is not superstition. Asshole.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.2.2.3

          If the government has been told by the relevant ministry and/or independent source that indications are that the law changes that they’re contemplating could result in more death and they put them through anyway and then such a death occurs they should be held accountable.

        • karol 4.2.2.4

          Someone in the Urgent Debate today – probably Andrew Little –  said, when businesses try to cut safety corners, they are more likely to do so on things that would cause occasional accidents.  i.e. they are less likely to cut back on things that would be noticeable in accidents daily.

    • mike e 4.3

      Doug Kidd , Bill Birch and Mad Max Bradford should all face manslaughter charges as they were the labour ministers who did away with mine safety!

      • insider 4.3.1

        But mine safety in terms of fatalities improved throughout the 90s and 2000s

        • mike e 4.3.1.1

          Thats because most underground mines were closed, and most of the underground coal mines were operated by solid energy which have a much higher standard and experience!
          Shifting the blame is the name of your game!

        • Colonial Viper 4.3.1.2

          But mine safety in terms of fatalities improved throughout the 90s and 2000s

          No it didn’t; if it had we wouldn’t have the problems which led to Pike River deaths.

          Just because you can’t see the house rotting underway underneath doesn’t mean its not happening.

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    Our system of government is dysfunctional. Elected dictatorship is the root cause of the Pike River disaster.

    Dictator Jim Bolger (with Ruth Richardson) came to power in 1990 and 2 years later scrapped health and safety regulations. Our dysfunctional system provided no way we could stop them. Trying to reason with them was pointless. The dictatorship of the day is all powerful. In 2008, a review found a need for major improvements in mine safety. But a year later we have a new dictator who ignores the recommendations. The dictator ignores workers’ protests.

    The dictatorship of the day acts with impunity, trashing whatever it wants. The costs are enormous. The current dictators have decimated the Dept. of Conservation. Tens of millions of dollars of damage has been done, much of it irreparable. They staged a coup d’etat, destroying local government for 1.5 million Aucklanders. They took control over Christchurch.

    Our so-called “prime ministers” are elected dictators. Labour dictators have also done whatever they pleased and the public be damned. The fault is not with particular parties, it is with the system that gives them unbridled power.

    Each new dictatorship believes its divinely inspired ideology requires it to tear apart our school system, health system, local bodies, and everything else 61 wankers take a fancy to re-inventing.

    We must have a more intelligent, more democratic form of government. If Parliament passes a bill the people should be able to veto the bill in a referendum. Under veto referendums, in 1992 miners and workers would have had a chance to collect enough signatures to force a referendum. Then they could take their case to the voters, to ask the people to reject the cuts to health and safety made by Dictators Bolger and Richardson.

    Veto referendums is my suggestion. When parliament passes a law, we, the people, have 3 months in which to collect signatures from 2% of the voters. If we get those signatures, a referendum must be held to decide if the bill will become law. The referendum is BINDING. If we vote “no” the bill is dead. If we vote “yes” it becomes law.

    If we vote “no” asset sales, the sales are stopped. WE should be able to decide if Christchurch loses control over its planning, what changes will be made to MMP, if pubic public lands will be mined, if the holiday highway will be built, if government departments are put into a blender for Stephen Joyce to destroy, if our soldiers go to Afghanistan.

    This is our God damn country, NOT theirs. 61 wankers should not have dictatorial control over 4.4 million people.

    Veto referendums.

    [lprent: fixed typo. ]

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      The fault is not with particular parties, it is with the system that gives them unbridled power.

      QFT

      • aerobubble 5.1.1

        Today, in the house, Mallard asked why National had shelved a mines inquiry on entering government, that would have return mine check officers to mines. The Attorney General
        grew laughter when he replied, Labour had failed to do anything about the matter.

        This isn’t about power, its about ethics, the governing party, on the day a minister resigned a portfolio, still doesn’t get the gravity, that 29 died due to deregulation. That deregulation they as a party espoused that led to leak homes costing billions to our economy, to 115? who died in
        CTV building due allegedly to a lax attitude to checking credentials of a civil engineer (buildings
        destroyed by earthquake should not collapse entirely).

        No, this all about the Key government view.

        Sociopaths get jobs too, indebted managers are working today
        across industries, a civil engineer has even been known
        to fake their credentials (CTV), its astonishing that Key cannot
        imagine that putting total faith in trusting industry to protect
        safety employees because ‘companies don’t want to lose lives
        and profitability’ is the worse type of cop out since its
        obvious even competent ministers miss problems and so resign,
        individuals do put profit over safety, people do make profit
        pledges to win elections, or contracts to build world class mines,
        and even sociopath do allegedly fake civil engineering degrees that
        are use to construct a building that killed people.

        Yet still Key endorses the lax lazy attitude it’ll be okay to allow
        industries across the nation to put safety over profit.

        But worse, its not the first disaster in industry due to lax regulation,
        that implemented worker protections removed by previous National
        governments at the pleadings of industry for efficiencies needs.

        When asked why his predecessor had scraped the union check officers
        in mining investigated by the last Labour government, the attorney
        general groom laugher from his over back benchers when he replied
        Labour had been ineffective. 14:40pm today in the House.

        Sorry, but they bleeding don’t care about the country.

        I was watching the excellent Scots History program on Choice TV,
        about how Scots having suffered from distance unresponsive governments
        from Westminister, forced out by clan ‘political correct’ over lords, left
        Scotland forever, to NZ, to Oz, to Canada and America. VERY MUCH like our
        currenct skilled crisis.

        The hands off government of Key, the lax lazy ethics, of trusting executives
        to be perfect managers over unions and workers, selecting winners if you will,
        is core to the problem, Key doesn’t believe he can do any wrong, the market
        will clean up after him (funny that, I thought clean up was a profit thing not
        a social cleanser.).

        • RedLogix 5.1.1.1

          I was watching the excellent Scots History program on Choice TV,
          about how Scots having suffered from distance unresponsive governments
          from Westminister, forced out by clan ‘political correct’ over lords, left
          Scotland forever, to NZ, to Oz, to Canada and America. VERY MUCH like our
          currenct skilled crisis.

          Yes, both of us watching it last night made exactly the same connection.

          Next question. Why do New Zealanders keep voting for governments that act against their own interests? (And this is not a phenomenon confined to this country.)

          1980. A crucial date. I believe it was when the hidden political persuaders mastered their dark art.

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.1

            The Left never evolved an appropriate or effective response. We were also short of well resourced, articulate leaders willing to stand for principle and for the people against corporate money.

            Even 30 years after the onset of neoliberalism when we know in detail both in theory and in practice why neoliberalism and free market capitalism is a total failure – the Left still has no strategy or ability to take its message to the wider public.

            White collar managers on $80K pa have been fooled into thinking that they are not really working class; blue collar workers on $40K pa have been taught how to despise those who are unemployed – even though they themselves may be in next months dole queue.

            The ethos of fuck you and your family Jack, because me and my family are doing OK is prevalent.

            • RedLogix 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes but why? You’ve posited this as a moral failure … on a mass scale.

              Part of me still connects this with the rapid decline of the non-fundamentalist churches in this time period. Cause or effect? I’m not sure. But there is no doubt that the core values which drove the reform and socialist movements of a century ago had their genesis in the social principles they were reading in their Bibles. They truly understood that they were indeed their brother’s keeper.

              Now there are many good reasons why the Churches have lost so much ground, much of it their own fault. But it’s come at a price … the ‘fuck you I’m alright Jack ethos’ is what we’ve been left with.

              Nor has science filled this moral vacuum.

              • karol

                Part of me still connects this with the rapid decline of the non-fundamentalist churches in this time period.
                 
                But the US has a load of fundies who are also into individualistic capitalism.  I think it has more to do with power of the elite to influence media, popular discourse and politics.  And the promise of continually new shiny consumer things to own, keeps people distracted.

                • Colonial Viper

                  power of the elite to influence media, popular discourse and politics.

                  Of course, these are also key parts of the puzzle. The elite have the resources to try multiple angles and multiple combinations, to keep what works and improve and change what doesn’t.

                  You can see it in how CT evolves National Party spin lines over the first 72 hours of some major event or crisis unfolding.

                  The guys at the top of the right wing pile aren’t necessarily that smart or hard working – but they have the money and the institutions to keep legions of very smart, very hard working people on call, on their behalf.

              • Colonial Viper

                RL – people need beliefs in their life. If it wasn’t belief in the church or in community, then it was in consumerism, free markets or ego power.

                Yes but why? You’ve posited this as a moral failure … on a mass scale.

                More like moral ignorance. Once it becomes normalised – indeed, idolised – to pursue wealth at the cost of all else, even those around you, the societal norm is to participate and do the same.

                The typical upper middle class dinner party in the 2000’s…chatting away about all the best ways to negatively gear your property investment portfolio, avoid taxes, the next up and coming suburb to buy into, when the right time to flip a property on was, etc.

                Discussion on the moral questions of today’s society and economy? Nah, all just rats in the maze trying to impress other rats.

          • aerobubble 5.1.1.1.2

            Murdoch. Cheap Oil fueled a false sense of ability amongst managers, that they were making the right decisions. Murdoch-Thatcher abstracted this movement into modern neoliberalism.

            Now we’ve hit peak oil the market signals can’t be hidden behind media-government blather.
            Basically our own public life has been saturated by turd blossoms.

    • prism 5.2

      Amakiwi
      Good points. Needs to be said then repeated till understanding is reached by all or nearly all. 80/20 would do fine.

    • KJT 5.3

      http://kjt-kt.blogspot.co.nz/2011/06/democracy-recap.html

      http://kjt-kt.blogspot.co.nz/2011/10/democracy-repris.html

      It would be nice if we had Democracy.

      Like these people. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1435383/How-direct-democracy-makes-Switzerland-a-better-place.html

      Unfortunately we have the peculiar arrogance of politicians, who think that 61 people have the right to make decisions, that the rest of us have to suffer for, without any regard to our wishes or taking any responsibility.

      It applies to both the left and right. Both would rather be dictators for three years than allow us to make our own decisions.

      As NRT said once. “Even if it is the wrong decision it is ours to make”.
      Though, evidence from countries with a real degree of democracy, and from business studies, strangely enough, shows that, on the whole, the more people involved in the decision making the better.

      Representative democracy is a contradiction in terms. There is no such thing. Being graciously allowed to change our dictators every three years, by vote, is no different from the banana republics, who at least had the satisfaction of shooting the last lot of incompetents.

  6. AmaKiwi 6

    Correction: The second to the last paragraph should say, “if public lands will be mined,” not “pubic” lands.

    It’s late. The mind wanders. (Freud is smiling.)

  7. fender 7

    As that baffoon Brownlee illustrates in that clip, this pack of Nact children are unable to engage in any serious debate about anything. The way they conduct themselves is pathetic, they seem to have this strange notion that governing is a chance to play standup comedy. They are clearly deluded if they think anybody believes they are either clever or funny, or will ever have a future in the entertainment industry.

    It’s time these batshit Key clowns were marched out of the beehive, taken down to the comedy stage and presented with their rotton tomatoes and other refuse they so greatly deserve.

  8. vto 8

    Key – what a pathetic effort at answering Campbell Live’s probing questions. Key had not a clue.

    Wilkinson – good riddance. Fuck off back to your farm and continue your flawed ways out of the way.

    Brownlee – Buffoon. His attitude in that vid displays perfectly the deadly flaws in National party unthinking.

    English and Carter – evil doers in stealing NZ’s resources for their voters through tyranny and lack of democracy.

    Government – fucking fools. Do not trust them to run the rules and do not trust them to set the rules.

    Authority – in cahoots with the above lot. Fuck them and their dangerous and cavalier attitudes to law and society.

    shrink to your own smaller communities folks… there aint no trust, competence or safety out there in the wider nation…

  9. karol 9

    Drill it, mine it, sell it Gerry Brownlee – champion of deregualtion of the mining industry.  
     
     
     
     
     
     

  10. Tracey 10

    Gerry Brownlee has some actual complicity in this, to my knowledge Wilkinson doesn’t. So, throw another female to the wolves National… Strange that Bennett gets to stay…. no blokes want that job in National???

    This all contradicts the notion being peddled that it’s so hard to start mines in NZ. Labour let this one start, Gerry opened it, and the company was left to do it how it liked. Hardly hard. Then, it went under when the times got hard. Whittal is not lacking for work… like the banks, this is just a blip, business as usual soon enough.

    • weka 10.1

      Bennett is for all intents and purposes a man. That’s why she has so much power currently. The fact that she is physically a woman works in NACTs favour. Nothing like dressing up power and corruption in a woman’s body. It confuses people about what women’s power is and makes out that there is no other way of being. It’s perfect they put her in charge of welfare. This is the exact same dynamic as Shipley, Richardson, Thatcher… tools of the patriarchy (in both senses of the word).
       
      Not sure about Wilkinson. Someone commented yesterday that she had direct involvement in decisions that lead to the disaster.

  11. ianmac 11

    Brownlie-Finland + Brownlie-Underground Mining Safety= A really funny guy.

  12. ianmac 12

    What was the date of the 60minutes program?

  13. prism 13

    Kate Wilkinson resigning can be looked at from a number of viewpoints. One is to ask how often do ministers take responsibility for what they do when it has bad effects? There is no real sanction for them carrying out some policy that will kill people, or allow financial predators, or the government itself, to strip people of their savings.

    So Kate W has thought – why should I be the patsy? It is for polynesian ministers to be taken to task, and then to Court, for mishandling the role of wise, trusted agent for the people, not me.

    • ianmac 13.1

      Prism “It is for polynesian ministers to be taken to task, and then to Court, for mishandling the role of wise, trusted agent for the people, not me.”
      I don’t get it. Polynesian???

  14. prism 14

    ianmac
    I was thinking of politicians being held to account and Taito Phillip Field came to mind.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taito_Phillip_Field

    He was held to account but it doesn’t happen very often, and I did think that there might be more inclination for the hounds to sniff out certain targets rather than others with wider influence and bigger pockets.

  15. Fortran 15

    After the next election there will be no more mining, of any sort, in New Zealand – so why worry.
    Russel will see to it.

    • Na Russel wants factories and Kiwi Saver – which equals growth, no mining no growth

    • Tracey 15.2

      yea Fortran what a bastard that Normnan is, wanting workplaces to be safe for people… doesn’t he know it impacts the bottomline…. oh wait, having killed 27 people impacted the bottom line quite a lot for pike river coal too.

      I was in greymouth the day the suits from Pike River were in the pub celebrating the go ahead for the mine… I wonder when the last time they stepped intot hat pub was?

  16. Jenny 16

    The coal powered steam roller crushes all before it.

    “Race for coal production exposed Pike River workers to risks” Scoop News.

    When it comes to the huge amounts of money that can be made from mining coal for export, the sickly smell of corruption is beginning to permeate the State

    As corruption and greed effectively killed these workers, corruption and greed is also required to kill our planet.

    The political Corruption pressure and greed at the highest levels of the State on behalf of the coal industry is starting to form an obvious pattern.

    As Solid Energy hires private investigators and agent provocateurs with taxpayers money to spy and infiltrate environmental groups. (even under a Labour administration)

    As the high court has ruled ‘out of order’ any testimony relating to climate change in the Denniston hearings.

    As a government department department charged with protecting the environment orders their staff not to be involved in any voluntary scientific investigation of the Denniston Plateau even in their own time.

    DOC staff banned from ‘Denniston bio-blitz’

    The First two examples of corruption in the State speak for themselves. In the last it might be asked:

    What legal, or moral right have DOC got, to order staff not attend a voluntary “Bio-blitz” even as private citizens. Even threatening them with disciplinary action, (possibly resulting in dismissal), if they do the investigative work that they are supposedly paid to do?

    The bioblitz will involve volunteers and scientists scouring the plateau to create a snapshot of its animal inhabitants and ideally discover new species, before a planned 200ha opencast coalmine goes ahead.

    DoC staff had been advised by head office that it “would not be appropriate for them to attend the bioblitz”, said Buller area manager Bob Dickson.

    He had not received any negative feedback from staff about the directive.

    DoC spokesman Rory Newsam said because one of the aims of the event was to encourage public pressure on DoC to decline Bathurst Resources’ mining application, it was inappropriate for staff to attend, even in a private capacity.

    What on Earth?

    I didn’t know that interests of Bathurst resources were of any concern to DOC, surely their first priority is to protecting the natural environment?

    So is DOC an independent body of the state concerned with the protection of the natural environment, or a government and private sector stooge?

    The corrupt standover tactics employed by DOC against their staff on behalf of Bathhurst’s application to mine Denniston couldn’t be more blatant.

    “As public servants, it is inappropriate for DoC staff to be involved in an activity that forms part of a clearly stated campaign to change Government policy and we have simply reminded staff of this fact,” said Mr Newsam.

    The political affiliations of DOC workers in their own time should be their own business. And if it doesn’t affect their work, not a cause for disciplinary action, in itself.

    Would these threats be acted on if DOC workers did volunteer work for the environment in their own time for the Greens, or even the Labour Party?

    After all, these organisations also “campaign to change government policy”

  17. karol 17

    Darien Fenton got an Urgent Debate on the Pike River Report in the House this afternoon. She has referred to that Gerry Brownlee performance in the House as shown in the video above.  She sounds quite emotional in her speech.

    The cost-cutting NAct government denied inspectors the money for travel to inspect mines.

    A long litany of damning behaviour by our current government.

    • Banks is speaking and has been talking about people he had employed who essentially caused the accidents.

      He is obviously operating on Planet Banks today. 

      • karol 17.1.1

        Banks made himself look pretty clueless as a businessman/employer.  His sole strategy to H&S seemed to be to tell his employees once a practice was wrong, then be surprised that they didn’t get the message. 

  18. joe90 18

    Interesting to compare the outcomes following Pike River killings and the methane explosion in the Upper Big Branch mine which killed 29 men.

    The then superintendent of the Upper Big Branch mine has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and despite the company paying a $210 million settlement with more court action likely there are calls for the CEO and board of the mine owners to be prosecuted.

    Whittall will probably be shown the wet bus ticket while Dow and his board ride off into the sunset.

    • vto 18.1

      exactly joe90, where is John Dow?

      What has he got to say on the report?

      Has the chairman of the company made any statement?

      Is John Dow hiding like a chicken shit coward?

      Why is he not fronting?

      Why is he hiding?

      His company committed manslaughter.

  19. fisiani 19

    The opposition comments in Parliament today are absolutely disgusting. Exploiting the grief of 29 families for political gain is just disgusting.

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Oh Fisi save us your crock tears.

    • joe90 19.2

      Yeah, terrible that a government be taken to task over the cancellation of a review that would have saved lives.

    • McFlock 19.3

      Manage to keep your face straight as you typed it, fis?

    • karol 19.4

      And Finlayson & Banks, not accepting the failure of deregulation and their role in it is disgraceful.  Banks gave a load of anecdotal flannel about his experiences as a restaurant employer.  Videos here.
       
      Mallard said that the 1990 changes weere wrong and that the changes his government made to the laws in 2003 were not good enough, as a subsequent accident showed.  That is why they were working on tightening the regulations. He was very critical of Wilkinson’s rejection of the changes they and others recommended.
       
      Andrew Little gave an excellent speech with gravitas and was well-informed.  He talked of the need to re-empower unions, change the laws and improve funding for the check inspectors.
       
      I’m just watchinga recording of Brownlee crying crocodile tears for the dead and bereaved.  Darien Fenton.

      • mickysavage 19.4.1

        Aye I was proud to be a Labour Party member today.  Andrew Little gave a great speech.  His comment about how he turned up on the coast and saw 5 PR spin doctors for the company there explained why the MSM thought that Whittall was a great guy.  He should have been pilloried.

        And (cough cough) Trevor Mallard gave a great speech.  He very gently but directly addressed the Government and the decision to shelve the review of mine safety that Labour had started.  It was introspective, he wondered if he should have done more, but it also skewered the Government.

        On ya Trev. 

        • Colonial Viper 19.4.1.1

          :) Yeah nice work from Labour today. Thumbs up team.

        • vto 19.4.1.2

          Yep, just listened to Andrew Little’s speech. He made a very powerful point when he asked where the NZ business community was in commenting on Pike River and the state of health & safety in the workplace. Andrew noted that everytime workers rights are attacked or reduced the business community comes out beating its drum loud and clear, and yet here when 29 of the business community’s workers are killed dead they are dead quiet. Disgusting.

          Where is Business New Zealand?

          Where is John Dow?

          Chicken-shit disgusting cowards.

          One thing Andrew didn’t get right I think was he said this is not a time for blame. In fact it is exactly the time for blame. It is the time to point the finger at the people, at the organisations, at the policies and philosophies. The evidence has been heard and the conclusion reached. Blame needs to be sheetd home at some point and this its it. And everybody sees where the blame lies…

    • Tracey 19.5

      I recall when you wanted no investigators at that mine immediately following the explosion Fisiani… that was disgusting too apparently. However, had that not happened most of the documentation around this would have been destroyed. That you shamelessly feign to purport on the familie’s behalf to say what is exploitation ill behooves you. What about the company that exploited 29 men to death???

  20. Dv 20

    In Qtime HT NRT
    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think that is a ridiculous statement. That is saying that a company is prepared to risk the deaths of its employees and the reputation of the company for the sole purpose of making money, and even from the most hardened socialist I find that something difficult to believe. In the case of the Pike River mine, let us argue just for a moment that the Pike River Coal company was halfway through its mining operations, and was a successful operation that was operating well. An explosion of the magnitude that took place back in 2010 would have then completely and utterly collapsed that company. That would have made no economic sense to anyone.

    HUH
    I thought the mine DID explode and the company DID collapse.

    What a really really weird comment.

    • karol 20.1

      Here: yes it’s part of  the government putting all the blame on the company, except for where they can say Laour was just as bad.

      • Red Rosa 20.1.1

        Absolutely. NRT is worth ten opposition MPs’ by himself.

        http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/

        I’d have thought that the leader of a party which began at Blackball, not far from Pike River, and is himself well distant from any possible blame, might have shown some indignation…fury…gumption….but not on TV3 tonight.

        Kevin Haigh deserves credit for provoking such a typical slippery Key response.

        and Trevor Mallard also…said what needed to be said.

        • karol 20.1.1.1

          Excellent post by NRT.  Typical once-over-lightly from TV3 and Garner.  He avoided mentioning the strong criticism by the opposition of Brownlee, Key and Wilkinson’s past behaviour that supported the inadequate regulation of mines.
           
          Garner was all congrats to Key for managing the situation so it’s put to bed quickly by sacking, having Wilkinson resign her portfolio.  According to Garner this leaves the opposition without a target. He said that the oposition didn’t call for Wilkinson’s total resignation from cabinet because ex-Labour government ministers are equally to blame – that’s Garner’s interpretation.
           
          But the opposition have bigger fish to fry than spending all their time on attacking the out-of-reach Wilkinson – she’s a bit of a scapegoat anyway. Instead in Qu time today, Shearer attacks the lax attitude to health and safety in Key’s cabinet.  Peters attacks the failure of government policy.  Hague attacks the neoliberal ideology of deregulation.

          Was Garner there or did he just get some junior to feed him the edited highlights?
           

        • Draco T Bastard 20.1.1.2

          Actual NRT link: Utterly, horribly wrong

      • Red Rosa 20.1.2

        Absolutely. NRT is worth ten opposition MPs’ by himself.

        http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/

        But I’d have thought that the leader of a party which began at Blackball, not far from Pike River, and is himself well distant from any possible blame, might have shown some indignation…fury…gumption….but not on TV3 tonight.

        That debate showed up some true colours.

        Kevin Haigh deserves credit for provoking such a typical slippery Key response. In fact, judging by the look of Key recently, he seems to be losing it big time.

        Andrew Little, Trevor Mallard also…said what needed to be said.

        • Colonial Viper 20.1.2.1

          On Planet Key, free market companies safeguard employees lives, but in NZ they haven’t and many people have died.

      • felix 20.1.3

        karol, did you notice Key accidentally admitting that his govt, as regulator, is responsible for the disaster? I nearly tripped over when I heard it.

        Kevin Hague: Does he agree that the deregulation of occupational health and safety that occurred in the 1990s was the major factor in creating an environment where management at Pike River were able to ignore workers’ calls to improve safety; if not, why not?

        Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. Let us take a step back. The primary responsibility of any company, when it comes to health and safety issues, rests with that company, so a good employer is always going to make sure that their employees are safe in the workplace. The role of a regulator is someone to ensure that the company is fulfilling its obligations, not to fulfil those obligations for the company. The company itself must do that. In the case of Pike River Coal, the company utterly failed.

    • gnomic 20.2

      ‘That is saying that a company is prepared to risk the deaths of its employees and the reputation of the company for the sole purpose of making money . . . .’

      Thus spake smirking batshit weasel man. I had thought he was not very bright, but this seems to be proof that John Key is an idiot as well as a knave. I expect we can safely assume that he has never read Upton Sinclair’s *The Jungle*.”Radical action must be taken to do away with the efforts of arrogant and selfish greed on the part of the capitalist.” So said Theodore Roosevelt and he was no fan of Upton Sinclair. Clearly this failed comedian has never read anything by B. Traven on the suffering of plantation workers.

      I expect too the weasel has never done any hard dangerous manual labour – perhaps someone can correct me on this point? Has he ever driven an old truck with no seatbelts through the Karangahake Gorge by night to make the company some money? Has he ever staggered under the weight of a sheet of gib across a building site? Has he got a clue about what the workers do?

    • Tracey 20.3

      “That is saying that a company is prepared to risk the deaths of its employees and the reputation of the company for the sole purpose of making money”

      The reort concluded they did just that. As for his suggestion that companies can’t be “stupid” he must have already forgotten the GFC and the financial industry meltdown.

  21. RedLogix 21

    The person most probably culpable in the political sense is Gerry Brownlee.

    Pike River Coal was conceived and permitted under Labour as a development project. The reasonable goal was to drive an exploratory shaft into the seam in order to determine what conditions they found and what would be required to turn it into a safe and productive mine.That was achieved.

    Even so plenty of people had sufficient cause for concern about the industry in general to push very hard for a major review and to push for a substantive re-regulation. But the new National govt in 2008 was entirely set against such a review. It was mocked in Parliament and dumped.

    More significantly the new government had made developing the mining industry a big priority. To the extent that tens of thousands of New Zealanders turned out in the biggest demonstrations since the Iraq war to protest the proposed desecration of our Conservation estate.

    This is why it was so important to Brownlee as Minister of Energy and Resources to open Pike River as a for the showcase the potential of the industry. Yet Pike was never ready to be a production mine. It was neither technically safe, nor was it fiscally feasible for a company with no other cash flow to develop to the point where it might have been.

    I believe that the cover-up that Bernie Monk and the families have encountered is all about deflecting attention from Brownlee’s role in this disaster. Even the most minimal, the lightest of regulatory oversight should have prevented Pike River from being turned into a production mine. I suggest that if someone looked hard enough there will be evidence of Ministerial interference. Interference to ensure, to enable the mine to proceed … against all reason.

    I suggest that given this government’s track record (Sky City? Snapper? ) this is a very plausible scenario.

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      Brownlee has been keeping a very low profile. But in a very safe National seat, why would he be worth a convoluted protective strategy and expending political capital on?

      • RedLogix 21.1.1

        Because I suggest that the level of culpability is un-survivable, and might well take down Key as well.

    • Draco T Bastard 21.2

      That would require asking the right questions of the right departments via OIA.

  22. infused 22

    Interesting to note a few manufacturing places I do work for are now big on health and safety. Lots of updates going on around factories in loom of a big osh shakeup.

    • RedLogix 22.1

      And I guess that has to one of the big questions around Pike River. I’m personally very close to three people who are senior H&S people. All three of them have repeatedly expressed astonishment that this was allowed to happen. Even under the current regime.

      Even the most elementary processes where not followed. Such a comprehensive failure stinks of more than hubris and negligence.

  23. Bruce 23

    I totally agree with many views here. I cannot fathom the total failure that lead to 29 dead people on the job. China occasionally has mining disasters – it’s kind of expected of them in a way. Here we are year 2000+. We know what lead to this and many people know the timeline regarding the National Party and their efforts to cut costs (at least Labour tried to do something while last in power). Brownlee is a disgrace and so is Wilkinson.

    *The Pike bosses did what they did because they could get away with it*

    This is a prime example of why we have laws and also people (people with power) who enforce those laws – this is done through regular audits/inspections. There are far too many people getting injured and killed on the job in NZ at the moment and no job is worth dying for. Employers need to lift their game big time, I also concede that workers need to think about what they are doing, stop cutting corners (to brown-nose in many cases), and be prepared to say “No” to the boss if they think a task is unsafe. This brings up the issue of the 90 day no rights law and the issue that working people feel they have to make a good impression at any cost, especially in the first few days of the job.

  24. Bruce 24

    Furthermore, I propose there should be ‘No Go’ areas for politicians – absolutely enshrined areas of legislation that cannot be changed (particularly in the area of health and safety law). Cutting costs should not result in deaths.

  25. Tracey 25

    A mining consultant yesterday said he has NEVER seen this environment in a mine in a developed country. he then stated he has worked in Turkey and Russia(regarded as developing) and doesn’t see it there.

    This had to be wilful and deliberate policy of the company. The DOL turned a blind eye OR was denied funding to keep watch.

    I’m still waiting for the LIbertarianz to explain how in a fully derugulated society this type of company would act better than this.

    • mike e 25.1

      libitarianz answer would be there would be no mining because the number of miners dying would put people off doing mine work!

      • vto 25.1.1

        Libertarians and similar ilk are sheepishly quiet about this because it is like a blinding light to their philosophy.

        Hello Rodney Hide?

        Hello Roger Douglas?

        What say you of the cause of the death of these 29 men and its implications for your political philosophy?

        We hear nothing because they have no answer. Their brainwaves have been evaporated by this blast of blistering light.

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