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Key refuses to pay compensation for Pike River

Written By: - Date published: 6:53 am, November 16th, 2013 - 120 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, health and safety, john key, same old national - Tags:

pike river fire

I blogged earlier on this subject and expressed the hope that the Pike River families would receive adequate compensation.  And David Cunliffe elegantly skewered John Key on the issue in Parliament this week.  But regrettably John Key has ruled compensation by the Government out unless it is forced to pay.  And nothing short of legal action will suffice.

The sums involved are at this stage not great.  In the Department of Labour prosecution Judge Farrish ordered Pike River to pay compensation of $110,000 to each of the deceased’s families and also to the two survivors and these sums are very modest.  A comparable case in the United States resulted in a US$46 million compensation package that was part of a US$209 million settlement of criminal and civil liability.  There is still the possibility of a civil case in New Zealand.

The Judge expected the money to be paid.  She previously said that it was morally unjust the way that Pike River Coal Ltd had been able to fold soon after the disaster and thereby avoid paying further money to the families.  According to the Greymouth Star:

Judge Farish slammed the Pike River company for a “total lack of remorse” and claims that it could not afford to pay reparation to the families.
“It is not often a company steps back and holds its hands up and says ‘I have nothing’. Even a company in a fragile state usually comes forward and offers reparation, but here nothing has been forthcoming.
“I am satisfied the company has the means to pay either by existing shareholders or a combination of the shareholders and directors. I note that the directors have significant insurance.”

But the Judge’s very strong statements did not embarrass the relevant parties into coughing up although it has been said that at least one shareholder has had the decency to make a pro rata offer of cash from his share of the insurance payout.

So how did John Key respond to suggestions that the shareholders of the parent company NZ Oil and Gas should stump up with the cash?  After all these included ACC and the Cullen Fund and favourable noises from him would have no doubt persuaded these entities to at least pay their share of the compensation ordered.  Between them they own about 7% of NZOG’s shares have a 7% direct or indirect stake in Pike River so on a pro rata basis a miserly $238,000 would have to be paid.  Their share of the insurance payout of $80 million that NZOG received would be $5.6 million so the Government could have paid its share of the compensation from this amount and barely missed it.

But Key ruled this out on the basis that he would be creating a precedent and that the Government would then be responsible for redundancy pay every time the Government held shares in a company.  How he can compare the payment of redundancy with the payment of compensation for avoidable deaths that occurred through gross incompetence is beyond me.  Equating the loss of loved ones because of an inherently unsafe mine with the loss of a job is both stupid and insensitive in the extreme.

So if the Pike River families want justice they will have to take the Government and other parties to Court.  I hope they do.  If they do so they can consider the following as possible avenues for further investigation:

  1. Claim against the directors for allowing Pike River to be run in a manner likely to create a substantial risk of serious loss to the company’s creditors contrary to section 135 of the Companies Act 1993.  With the benefit of hindsight the way the mine was run clearly created a substantial risk of serious loss to all involved in the mine.  There is some wriggle room in what meaning ought to be given to “creditors” but if this includes the workers they may be able to sustain a claim.
  2. Claim against the directors and the senior managers for breach of a statutory duty by allowing the mine to remain open when the risks were apparent.  As was said by the Royal Commission, “even though the company was operating in a known high-hazard industry, the board of directors did not ensure that health and safety was being properly managed and the executive managers did not properly assess the health and safety risks that the workers were facing. In the drive towards coal production the directors and executive managers paid insufficient attention to health and safety and exposed the company’s workers to unacceptable risks. Mining should have stopped until the risks could be properly managed.”
  3. Make a claim against the Labour Department for failing to shut the mine down.  As reported by Stuff “the royal commission into the tragedy found the then Labour Department should have issued a prohibition notice when Pike started hydro extraction of coal in September 2010 because the mine lacked a second emergency exit.”  The commission finding  said that “[t]he Department of Labour did not have the focus, capacity or strategies to ensure that Pike was meeting its legal responsibilities under health and safety laws. The department assumed that Pike was complying with the law, even though there was ample evidence to the contrary.”
  4. Claim against the Mining Inspectorate.  Again from the stuff article “[t]he royal commission’s report also highlighted that the Government’s mining inspectorate had substantially declined since new health and safety laws were introduced in 1992.  It had ignored warnings that the changes could be disastrous for mining” lawyer Nick Davidson QC said.

Now that the photo opportunities have passed and the effect of the PR spin that the country was subjected to has subsided it is very clear that an avoidable disaster has occurred and the cost has been innocent workers lives.  The least that should be done is for the Pike River families to be properly compensated.

120 comments on “Key refuses to pay compensation for Pike River ”

  1. Frank 1

    While I would usually be the first in line to give Key a sharp left in the gob. Yeah, nah.

  2. tricledrown 2

    The National party should be sued for gross neglegence.
    The party that puts profit before people!

    • David H 2.1

      Maybe Key being in charge of all the govt depts, should be lumped in with the rest of the incompetents, as the chief incompetent.

  3. chrissy 3

    john key has no emotional attachment to the citizens of New Zealand. He has no family ties as his parents were born out of NZ so he also has no kiwi history. I don’t believe that he is here to make our lives better but is here to establish a business that is being run for the rich. The rich who he will do anything for. “Just ask and I will make it happen” He is a sad little toady hanging around the fringes of *the cool gang* waiting to be let in. Witness him stalking Putin and popping up in as many photos as possible with Putin in it. He is a know not, who is using us to further his self perceived *world leader* status. LOL. Maybe nz could start a fund raising drive to fund a court action against the Govt. Off to buy a Lotto ticket now.

    • Paul 3.1

      He’s here for the global elite.
      And they’re coming in droves because he is turning this country into a paradise for them.
      ‘Private jet visits to NZ booming’

      ‘Billionaire’s paradise’

      John Key made his important contacts at Merrill Lynch.
      They’re his handlers.
      And they’ve given him a job to do in New Zealand before he retires to Hawaii.

    • Will@Welly 3.2

      Chrissy – this is the thing that has crossed my mind time and again about John Key. His parents came out here, fleeing Europe after the Second World War. John’s father set up a restaurant, probably too soon after the war in those days, drank his money away and died. His mother was a middle class person – race really doesn’t come into it – but given New Zealand’s lack of a real class culture then, she would have been dismayed. In Europe, people knew their places, the classes didn’t mix, here we did, and in many places, still do. John’s parents lived in a very nice house in Auckland. After John’s father died, his mother moved to Christchurch. The “business” was sold to pay the debt, what was the story about the house – was it mortgaged, or rented ? Somehow Mrs Key managed to get a state rental in Christchurch, after having lived all her previous time in Auckland – why the move south ? As you say Chrissy, John had no other family in New Zealand, other than his two sisters, and I’ve always wondered about the real truth about the “backstory”. My understanding, once you’d owned property back then, no matter what the circumstances, you’d never ever get into a state house. As John Key has stated, those 8 years in a state house has given him the biggest political capital he could ever ask for. Now he is destroying the very fabric of the society he was born into.
      As for paying the families of the victims of Pike River, that should be the responsibility of NZ Oil & Gas – if the Government wanted to, they would make sure that NZOG paid up. Trouble is, they don’t care. 29 men died because the Government simply doesn’t give a rats arse about the workers in this country.

      • Sacha 3.2.1

        “His mother was a middle class person”

        She was brought up in a well-off merchant family in Europe. John-boy’s cultural capital was not one of poverty.

      • Tinshed 3.2.2

        FFS, you will be calling him a ‘rootless cosmopolitan’ next. Never thought I would read such drivel.

  4. miravox 4

    I hope they take them to court too and can clarify the responsibilities of the government as regulator and inspector, as well as getting the already awarded Pike River payout.

    I’m sure a fund can be set up to kick things off, if required.

    • BM 4.1

      Already has

      Tony Kokshoorn said earlier that the trust had received more than 20,000 individual donations totaling more than $7 million.


      • miravox 4.1.1

        That’s for the victims’ families – not for legal action to establish the company and government reparations for not keeping up with their responsibilities.

        • BM

          Company is defunct so the only option is to chase the tax payer for money because that’s what you’re doing by suing the government, the money ain’t coming out of John Keys pocket it’s coming out of the pockets of kiwi workers.

          When you look at it, kiwi taxpayers have already been very generous, 7 million dollars for the families and a $10 million body recovery effort.

          If you think they deserve more open up your wallet.

          • miravox

            This kiwi taxpayer would be very happy to know the government was obliged to legislate, regulate and monitor industry correctly. That workers were safe. And if you wanted to go down the track of the monetary cost to kiwi workers – think about the costs of inquiries, commissions, ACC, hospitals, rescue and safety, police etc. when badly regulated and monitored industry turns to custard.

            • BM

              Out of curiosity how much has the EMPU given the miners families?

              I remember reading somewhere that the EMPU brings in something like 80 million dollars in subs per year.

              Surely all that money isn’t spend every year so maybe they should dip into their reserves and compensate these families for what they truly believe they deserve.
              I’d say the union members would have no issue that that, looking after their fallen comrades families

              Great chance to demonstrate the value of belonging to a union.

              • miravox

                I don’t know. Why don’t you go find out and get back to me?

              • tricledrown

                The National party cutting mine safety inspectors circa 1992 to virtually nothing is the reason why miners are dead.
                labour only slightly less as it did investigate the situation and slowly tried to remedy the situation.
                National had another chance to redeem themselves with new legislation labour had started but they just shelved it.
                Successive govt s are responsible so govt should pay

              • Te Reo Putake

                Fuck off, you scabby piece of shit. You read somewhere? Or just plucked a figure out of your arse?

                Do some maths, fool. 40,000 members, 7 bucks a week.

                For the record, the EPMU (note spelling, BM) was the only participant in the Pike River inquiry not to have its legal costs subbed by the government. Even that loathsome tosser Whittall had his bills paid, but not the workers’ union. The cost, last time I heard, was nudging a million. The union also set up a welfare fund immediately after the disaster and co-ordinated world wide fundraising for the families.

                The EPMU, and its members, have contributed more than just money, though. They’ve stood with the families since day one, and unlike Key, they’ve never turned their back on them.

                So, tell us, BM, what have you done for them? Hint, talking bollocks doesn’t count for shit.

                • BM

                  Take it down a notch there fella.
                  I wasn’t trying to put the boot in, just asking a question.

                  I was a bit out with the 80 million as I’m not really up with the structure of the unions. I thought the EPMU was the head union and every one branched off that.
                  The EPMU is only worth 10 million a year.

                  The 80 million is for all unions combined, maybe the rest of the unions could all chip in and help out?

                  • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                    No need for charity: the liable parties have plenty of money, it’s the human decency they’re lacking (with the exception of those noted in the OP).

                    Oh, and what TRP said, trash.

                  • QoT

                    You must live a very privileged life if you think total income = disposable profit.

                    • BM

                      You do have to wonder how the Unions can burn through 80 million a year, what do they spend the money on.?

                      Their biggest costs would have to be staff, I guess they must pay their staff really well.

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      DNFT Scab.

                    • QoT

                      Well BM your “guess” is obviously just as good as any amount of actual research. Maybe only 80 people work for unions in NZ and they’re all millionaires. That would seem to be totally logical.

                  • Foreign Waka

                    This case is a lesson that should be used to lobby for a change in commerce law that such obligation should be met by insurance payouts before corporate/companies get the funds. It is the reason to have those in the first place. For the parties to keep the money is in my view not only insurance fraud but morally repulsive.

                  • thechangeling

                    According to those stats the EPMU has income of $1,456,000 per year. Nowhere near the $80 mil purported by BM and also very unlikely to be anywhere near the total union income across all NZ Trade Unions these days. *(Before the neo liberals attacked the power of Trade Unions with the ECA in 1991).

                    • BM

                      Think your maths might be a bit out there bud.

                      From work done by a chap called The Owl, who’s dug through the latest annual reports.

                      The figures are:

                      PSA $16,804,637
                      NZEI $17,402,592
                      NZNO $14,237,227
                      EMPU $10,519,668
                      FIRST $5,638,256
                      SFWU $4,993,078
                      NZPPA $8,936,506

                      Total $78,527,964 Annual Subscriptions

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Funny how you and the owl both share the same spelling mistake, BM. Is there something you want to tell us?

                    • BM

                      The M should come before the P?

                    • QoT

                      So you and Cameron Slater – sorry, “The Owl” – have “dug through” annual reports and you still don’t know where the money goes? Sounds legit.

                    • BM

                      I haven’t done shit.
                      All I’ve done is read the results of The Owls hard work, I claim nothing, the work is all his.

                      Makes for interesting reading, especially around the laxness of reporting finances especially surprising when there’s 100’s of millions of dollars in play.

                    • framu

                      “EMPU $10,519,668”

                      thats not 80m is it wonder boy

              • miravox

                Oops cancel that request BM, we just found out. Thanks TRP, much appreciated.

                Yes, one of the (many) very valuable reasons for joining a union.

                • Te Reo Putake

                  Cheers, miravoz (and others).

                  Anybody wishing to make a contribution to the EPMU fund can do so via Kiwibank or by cheque.

                  Donations can be made at any Kiwibank branch or direct to bank account: [correct account below – MS]. The account name is Pike River Family Education Trust.

                  Cheques made out to “Pike River Families Education Trust” can also be sent by post, care of EPMU, PO Box 14-277, Kilbirnie, Wellington 6241.

                  • Ad

                    …which is a whole bunch more than that rich prick John Key and his immoral government. Proud to have donated. EPMU have their heads held high through this.

                    Kia kaha to the families.

                    Cunliffe went hard this week on it, my bet he is going to go harder describing the sick taste in the mouth of New Zealanders by John Key’s cabinet decision not to award compensation.

                  • Jilly Bee

                    TRP – have you got the right bank account number there. I thought BNZ had the 02 prefix and Kiwibank was 18. Just checking.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Yes, right you are, JillyBee. A further search suggests it’s actually this one:

                      Kiwibank 38-9011-0165987-00

              • Draco T Bastard

                Out of curiosity how much has the EMPU given the miners families?

                It’s not their responsibility but the responsibility of the shareholders. What you’re actually arguing for here is that those shareholders not be held to account.

              • Murray Olsen

                I suppose the unions should pay David Bain compensation as well. The pilots’ association could have paid compensation for Erebus, and the firemen’s union could pay for the damage in Christchurch. We should forget about negligence altogether, in the interests of union busting. Bloody moron.

          • David H

            Yeah, and the insurance payout is what ? 80 million?

          • ghostwhowalksnz

            The taxpayer has allready stumped up $5 mill for the losers, TeamNZ-and various global corporates, to ‘tide them over’ till a new Americas Cup contest is set up.

            This money will go to probably less people than died at Pike River

  5. bad12 5

    David Cunliffe may have as you say ‘skewered’ Slippery the Prime Minister over the abhorrent attitude He has to the payment of compensation to the Pike River families,

    Any decent Government would have (a) began the process of enacting Legislation which puts those effected by such a tragedy and subsequent orders of compensation by the Courts up at the top of the queue as ‘secured creditors'(and as an aside to this levies must be struck and held by ACC in a specific ‘disaster fund’ where workers owed monies by insolvent employers can be paid in full), and (b), simply passed enabling Legislation to pay the Pike River families the cost awarded by the Court with a non-precedent setting clause,

    Having said all of that, what exactly is Labour Leader David Cunliffe going to do as Prime Minister after November 2014, there is a little too little coming from the leader of the Opposition on such niceties,(will David be putting into the Parliament the Pike River (special) Compensation Bill,

    My disquiet grows, David Cunliffe in His address to the recent Conference pointed out that ‘the middle class’ are in trouble with unaffordable rents,

    In today’s NZ National Party NZ Herald, Armstrong, perhaps suffering more then usual today, quotes Cunliffe from a speech to Victoria University where He is said to have lambasted National over it’s taxation policy claiming that that middle class is carrying the highest degree of taxation…

    • RedBaronCV 5.1

      I’d be the first to say that Cunliffe has a huge job altering the course of NZ and needs all the help he can get. He’s pointed out that the so called middle classes can’t afford rent which means the rest don’t have a chance.
      Without usurping his agenda (!) shutting off the flow of monopoly rents and untaxed profits fleeing the country and taxing super salaries would surely have to be the first calls for inflows and moving on investment in such activities. When this is captured locally then there is more to go around. Much tho’ I may not want to say it, in the short term he needs at least the co-operation of the “middle classes” probably the sort who post on here to create a middle class that everyone belongs to . As far as I can see, we need to enter a world economic “stable state”.
      To get there we either need to share or fight it out. I’m for the sharing.

  6. karol 6

    Now that the photo opportunities have passed and the effect of the PR spin that the country was subjected to has subsided it is very clear that an avoidable disaster has occurred and the cost has been innocent workers lives.

    yes, I recall clearly how key was in there with the photo ops immediately after the disaster, claiming support for the victims and their families, and weeping crocodile tears. Now he shows little compassion or responsibility. Charlatan!

  7. red blooded 7

    My reply is to Chrissy. Have another look at your comment. Do you really believe that someone whose parents were born elsewhere has no emotional attachment to NZ. JK is a manipulative selfish prick, but that has nothing to do with the birthplace of his parents. Think about how many people you are dismissing as having no love for this country when you make sweeping assertions like that.

    • Bearded Git 7.1


    • Draco T Bastard 7.2


      My parents were English but you won’t find me having any attachment to England or its aristocracy. It’s all NZ.

    • chrissy 7.3

      Am very sorry if that I how you see it. I was strictly referring to johnkey alone and in his capacity as our Prime Minister. And that is my opinion only and I won’t be changing it anytime soon. If you think johnkey is running the country for the benefit of the WHOLE of NZ then good luck with that.

      • gobsmacked 7.3.1

        I was strictly referring to johnkey alone

        No, you were insulting thousands of New Zealanders. Including thousands who dislike this government as much as you do.

        Seriously, you think the real problem with Key is that he’s not Bill English?

        • poliambidextrous


          chrissy, your comment was insulting to ALL of us whose parents were born overseas. We’re New Zealanders too and we care about this country just as much as you do. Would you like a step ladder to help you down from that horse you’re riding?

  8. PHILG 8

    He’s called the smiling assassin for good reason.

  9. Appleboy 9

    People like BM amaze me. There is nothing this government does that he doesn’t support. There is a long list of lies and deception and time after time evidence they favour the few – amazing – what you just blindly support out of ideology or you are just greedy and self centred by nature?

    Since when did a government do a deal with a casino to get infrastructure built? Sky City must be laughing – the $400 million build cost is just like a rebate for them on the total profits they earn from it. They must love having a politician in the pocket so much you can buy a deal and change the laws of the land to get what they want


    • Paul 9.1

      Don’t stress about BM. He doesn’t believe what he writes.

      He’s either:

      A) paid to write what he writes
      B) has nothing much to do with his life
      C)is very rich
      D) very stupid.

      I think a combination of a, b and d.

    • Will@Welly 9.2

      And just how much – read that little tax – these corporations pay here. They take their profits off-shore and lock them away in counties where they pay minimal taxes, before returning them to shareholders.

    • Naturesong 9.3

      Since when did a government do a deal with a casino to get infrastructure built?

      That would be the Casino Control Authority in 2001 when Judith Collins ran it..

      This was previous to Judith Collins becoming an MP. She was establishing her credentials as a serious National Party candidate.

      It was a transparent and ethically bankrupt decision which prompted the Government of the time to craft the Gambling Act 2003.

      While the Sky City deal is the latest a recent example of Government corruption, these folks have history.

  10. johnm 10


  11. Bill 11

    Very good Pike River mine interview with Rebecca Mcfie (book released yesterday) on radio NZ this morning http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2576610

    My own thoughts on compensation are that, if necessary, a specific piece of legislation pertaining to Pike River victims should be passed. Part of the reason for that (putting on my ‘bad bastard bureaucrat/lawyer/politician’ hat here) is that ‘everyone’ knows the government is going to be in a big fcking hole when the Christchurch asbestos claims begin to roll in in 20 years or so.

    • thechangeling 11.1

      Bill Birch is ultimately responsible for Pike River so he should be strung up by the neck with rope until he is dead. We can then all throw rotten fruit at his corpse.

  12. Ad 12

    I would be very happy to donate to a civil case brought by the families.
    In fact i would be quite happy to generate a fundraiser for it.

    I know a good few lawyers who would relish the opportunity to support such a case. Included are those with a health and safety enforcement background, those with administrative law backgrounds, and ACC specialists.

    While a Cabinet decision that is not acting under direct regulatory power may not be judicable (ie a judicial review of the decision might not be possible), it is still easily foreseeable that Key and his cabinet colleagues who made the decision not to compensate could be called as expert witnesses on the reasons not to compensate within a civil case.

    That alone would be election year gold on tv.

    Bring it on Mr Key.

  13. Ad 13

    Mickey it would be good to see you getting a post from a legal specialist in this kind of litigation – without giving too many of the tactics away of course. For example what would Justice Thomas make of it?

  14. RedBaronCV 14

    I think everybody involved as an investor in this needs to remember that limited liability is a “legal construct” if I have the right term. The community has given this as a legal right because the assumption generally is that overall the community benefit exceeds the harm.

    It could simply be legislated away as commentators have suggested here as the harm has been too great. The community can simply remove it.

    The threat of legal action should be resulting in a lot of arm twisting behind the scenes -from a selfish right wing point of view it would be better to stump up voluntarily than risk the system as they know it collapsing. Let’s hope they have had this pointed out to them.

  15. RedBaronCV 15

    BTW Mickey you mentioned some thing about a shareholder who would pay over their share . Any further details?

  16. photonz 16

    1/ So you think when a private company is ordered to pay compensation, the tax payer should step in and pay it for them.

    Yeah – that sounds like a great idea.

    2/ And despite previous links proving NZOG didn’t get paid $80m, you still carry on with this lie.

    3/ You fail to acknowledge that NZOG was only a 30% shareholder in Pike River, so ACC and NZ Super’s 7% of NZOG then reduces to an indirect stake in Pike River of just 2%

    4/ The govt should look at paying it’s share of the compensation, in line with it’s shareholding – 2% of what the court ordered (on top of the ACC payments already paid, and the million taxpayers are spending on a small chance of body recovery). If they pay more, the taxpayer is paying compensation for other private companies and shareholders, which is totally wrong.

    5/ While there are undoubtable safety issues with the mine, it’s still quite likely that the blast could have been caused by a sudden leak of methane from a coal seam during mining – something not even the best safety precautions would have stopped.

    [You are right but wrong photonz. ACC and Cullen Fund have 7% of NZOG but also own 5.6% of Pike River’s shares. The result is about the same but article has been amended – MS]

    • McFlock 16.1

      More bullshit.

      By your logic, I was not liable for rent a few years back when one of the flatties skipped out, because I was only a 20% shareholder in the lease.

      As for your speculation on the causes of the blast and whether it could have been stopped, you’re just inventing bullshit again.

      I respect you for working on a weekend, though, photoshop. PDR time?

      • photonz 16.1.1

        By your logic you’re also responsible for your flatmates uncles second cousins default on a car loan.

        Funny that you can rule out what happened in the mine when not even the experts know.

        Perhaps you should ring them up and lend them your expertise about which of their scenarios are “invented bullshit”.

        I’m sure they’d be appreciative of you insight since you seem to be so sure of what did and didn’t happen.

        • McFlock

          Funny that you can rule out what happened in the mine when not even the experts know.

          Hang on: you make shit up. I call you on making shit up, and all of a sudden I’m the one making statements about what happened down there?

          There’s a major difference between a report by qualified investigators and you proclaiming that it’s “quite likely” that a particular scenario occurred and that no safety precautions could have stopped it. Particularly when the trained investigators identified a number of possible ignition sources, many of them identifiable and the removal of which could have stopped it.

          • Sacha

            “While there are undoubtable safety issues with the mine, it’s still quite likely that the blast could have been caused by a sudden leak of methane from a coal seam during mining – something not even the best safety precautions would have stopped.”

            A hydro-mining expert disagrees with you, as reported in an extract from the new book on Pike – http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/tragedy-pike-river-mine-how-and-why-29-men-died-dc-148754

            “But he feared that Pike did not have a sound appreciation of the particular risks associated with hydro mining, and how those risks dif­fered from other forms of mechanical mining.

            Continuous miners and roadheaders have a known production rate. Assuming the methane content per tonne of coal has been properly assessed, the amount of gas that will be released into the mine atmosphere can be calculated, and the amount of ventilation required to keep gas to a safe level can therefore be worked out.

            But hydro mining can cut through very large volumes of coal quickly, resulting in big surges of methane that need to be flushed away by the ventilation circuit and diluted to a safe concentration as they are carried out of the mine.”

    • Paul 16.2

      Is this one of your hit and run debates, photnz?

      Be very careful about what you say about the Pike River 29.
      Your friends in the Nats caused the disaster when they deregulated the industry in the early 90s.
      29 people paid for that ‘nanny state’, ‘non pc’, ‘red tape’ argument with their lives.

      So did 115 in the CTV building…..because of neo-liberal deregulation.

      • photonz 16.2.1

        I had a relative just across the road right when CTV came down and you try to shift the blame from a crooked engineer to politicians on one side of the spectrum. That’s pretty sick

        You’re using dead people to try to score political points.

        • Sacha

          Neither engineers nor miners caused lax regulations that favoured the financial interests of company owners.

        • happynz

          I had a relative just across the road right when CTV came down…

          That has what to do with the discussion? Nothing, I reckon. Weakest link, photonz.

    • Ad 16.3

      1. Where the company is bankrupted and there is no chance of recovering any money, and there are multiple damaged families who need to get their life back in order, my answer is: that is what my taxpayer dollars are for.

      2. Wait for next week – more to come.

      3 and 4. The government should bring whatever services are required around those families, and keep paying taxpayer dollars through those services until they are back on a firm foundation.

      It’s called society.

    • mickysavage 16.4


      While there are undoubtable safety issues with the mine, it’s still quite likely that the blast could have been caused by a sudden leak of methane from a coal seam during mining – something not even the best safety precautions would have stopped.

      Did you read the passage in the post where the Royal Commission said “even though the company was operating in a known high-hazard industry, the board of directors did not ensure that health and safety was being properly managed and the executive managers did not properly assess the health and safety risks that the workers were facing. In the drive towards coal production the directors and executive managers paid insufficient attention to health and safety and exposed the company’s workers to unacceptable risks. Mining should have stopped until the risks could be properly managed.

      The mine was a bomb waiting to go off. The sudden leaks of methane were utterly predictable and without the proper infrastructure in place Pike River has a sense of inevitability about it.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.5

      1.) No, that the company should actually pay what they’ve been ordered to
      2.) Read the post again
      3.) No he didn’t
      4.) The government has responsibility for allowing an unsafe mine to proceed and not ensuring adequate oversight was available
      5.) That’s just you blowing out your arse.

    • photonz 16.6

      Mickey – if their total direct and indirect ownership of Pike River was around 7%, then they should pay 7% of the ordered compensation.

      But it would be wrong to fork out taxpayers dollars to pay they share of private companies and other shareholders.

      If dept of Labour shares some blame, then that’s another discussion as well. Although should taxpayers fork out on behalf of Land Transport for everyone that’s killed on roads that aren’t up to first world standards (pretty much all our roads).

      Otherwise, tragic as Pike River is, we have compensation via the no fault ACC system for the many hundreds of people killed every year in road accidents, work accidents – particularly forestry, mining and fishing, earthquakes, medical misadventures, murder, drownings, air accidents etc.

      • mickysavage 16.6.1

        Mickey – if their total direct and indirect ownership of Pike River was around 7%, then they should pay 7% of the ordered compensation.

        That is exactly what I proposed Key should do but he has ruled that out.

        But it would be wrong to fork out taxpayers dollars to pay they share of private companies and other shareholders.

        I have not suggested they should do this, just pay their share.

        If dept of Labour shares some blame, then that’s another discussion as well.

        This is addressed in the post and it appears that there is some risk of this eventually happening.

        • photonz

          So you’re only asking the govt pay 7% of the $3.19m, or $223,000.

          That seems reasonable.

          Although on the other side of the coin they are being very generous with millions of taxpayer dollars trying to recover the bodies, which they don’t have to do.

          Cunliffe was trying to insinuate the govt was getting a big part of the $80m payout, and that ACC (5%) and NZ Super (1%) were parent controllers of NZOG – which was patently false.

          (which reminds me – you’re still factually wrong in your article about NZOG getting paid $80m. The banks and small contractors took over $30m of that).

      • Sacha 16.6.2

        “first world standards”

        Nice try at lowering the bar. Keeping workers alive is a pretty basic responsibility wouldn’t you say? And yes, we are still in the wealthier group of world countries so “I can’t afford it” won’t wash from owners.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 16.7

      There were clear failures by the regulators – they didnt do their job of shutting it down right away- of course that would have cost Pike River money and the National Government doesnt do that sort of regulation

  17. Tracey 17

    When john key said the govt would stand by the families and help however he could, he was getting political mileage from a tragedy?

  18. Delia 18

    The Labour Department should pay compensation for its role in the disaster.

  19. charles kinbote 19

    I do not know the custody chain of responsibility here, but it is true that John Key said the govt would stand by the families and help however he could .
    I agree with photonz and Mickey Savage about the ownership liability. 7%.
    The Country should make some agreement with the families here, Maybe we are frightened of setting a precedent

    this column is scary, the language is disgraceful,
    felix, 16 November 2013 at 5:07 pm
    Getting out of bed you miserable dumb fuck..

    and this
    Te Reo Putake …
    16 November 2013 at 10:55 am
    Fuck off, you scabby piece of shit. You read somewhere? Or just plucked a figure out of your arse?

    I see Mickey Savage has taken up the sad habit of using the black bold pen to correct people.,
    If the Standard has a quota of people to ban, then felix and Te Reo are good suspects. Also of course anyone Karol says is dumb

    [Given what Felix and TRP were responding to I thought their responses were vigorous but appropriate. The Standard tolerates a much more robust standard of debate than other sites – MS]

    • QoT 19.1

      I see Mickey Savage has taken up the sad habit of using the black bold pen to correct people.

      That’s because this is his post and he’s a moderator. Did you miss kindy the day they did the lesson on respecting other people’s rules when you’re in their house?

  20. paulscott 20

    QoT 19.116 November 2013 at 9:06 pm
    I see Mickey Savage has taken up the sad habit of using the black bold pen to correct people.

    That’s because this is his post and he’s a moderator. Did you miss kindy the day they did the lesson on respecting other people’s rules when you’re in their house?

    No,QOT I went to night school instead . They didn’t use filthy language, and they had some qualifications for what they were talking about.

    • mickysavage 20.1

      Hmmm we are talking about West Coast families losing their loved ones because of greed and incompetence and some are getting upset because of the language used?

      Please …

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 20.2

      Another lesson from kindy is “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Of all the language employed in this thread, you can only find offence in what Felix TRP and QoT are saying?

      As for your night school, what was the subject? Whining 101?

    • QoT 20.3

      Oh noes!!!!!! Filthy language!!!!!!!!!!!! I shall fucking repent and swear no fucking more.

  21. BrucetheMoose 21

    If there is one good reason why governments should pay something in circumstances like this, it should be to make them more accountable and to force them to think more seriously about decisions relating to deregulating particular industries, and what the potential ramifications could result from such actions. Take the deregulating of building industry in the early 90s. The National led government under Bolger, were advised by certain building experts, that by implementing the proposed changes, it could cause serious problems in standards of buildings, resulting in detrimental financial costs far exceeding the savings gained from deregulation. The government completely ignored the advice, and look where that all went. The Leaking Building scenario is costing NZ billions, and will do so for decades. The government is heavily implicated in this whole mining disaster, they should pay something.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 21.1

      At what point does proceeding with a law change in the face of expert advice constitute criminal negligence? Ever? Is the ballot box the only legitimate response to political vandalism?

      • BrucetheMoose 21.1.1

        Correct, there needs to be more accountability in the political system and our politicians, underwritten by appropriate laws. If this was to come to pass, there would be significant changes in attitude and the decisions made in our political structure. Of course this has to be partially implemented by our political system. Do you think that would happen with ethically devoid imposters like Johnny. Not a bag of lollies chance in a school yard.

  22. Bruce 22

    The thing is we’re not learning from mistakes:

    This disaster is a true example of the swiss cheese risk model:

    There needs to be more accountability. We need a law that allows corporate manslaughter charges to be laid against rogue employers with $$ signs in their eyes only. If laws are “relaxed” in the name of “flexibility” and “cutting red tape for businesses” and there are deaths as a result, then morally the government needs to pay up. If government are truly protectors of taxpayer money then they should legislate to minimise risk. Proposed accountability laws should be enshrined as basic human rights and not flagrantly brushed aside by an ideologically minded future NZ government.

    Comparing redundancies with what appears to be manslaughter is a ridiculous argument by Key. This feels like a massive downplay of 29 people dying on the job.

    • bad12 22.1

      ”With what appears to be manslaughter”, my view of Pike River, in particular the first of the 4 explosions, is that this ‘MIGHT’ have been an accidental explosion of Methane Gas, with all the attendant liabilities of the mining company surrounding the competent extraction of such gas so as to maintain a safe working enviroment and with regards to also maintaining a safe ‘air-flow’ into the mine considering what i see as a seriously compromised system after the initial ‘rock-fall’ and ‘repair’ in the main ventilation shaft,

      ”Might have been an accidental explosion” i will explain thus: physically the mine was seriously compromised in terms of safety in a number of areas,(mostly covered by the Royal Commission), Financially the mine was also seriously compromised by it’s inability to produce the amounts of high quality coking coal it was contracted to,

      The shareholders at this point had flatly refused to stump up with any more money for the mine which to all extents and purposes was at the point of defaulting on an order of coal where the ship was already dispatched for it’s collection,(Pike River had tried to purchase coal from Solid Energy),

      Whittal the CEO had been ordered by the company directors to find further funding to keep the mine operating,(as far as i know there was no successful line of credit found by Whittal),

      SO, what you have is to all extents and purposes an insolvent coal company unable to produce the coal it was already contracted to extract, no further lines of credit and the shareholders refusing to toss any more money down the hole, BUT, the coal company and there for the shareholders DO have a reputed $100 million insurance policy,

      And now cut to the chase, the mine manager on the afternoon of the first Pike River explosion while standing in the carpark some 2 kilometers from the mine smelled a strong smell of Burnt Diesel, Methane gas when combusted has NO smell,

      The South African electrician with 27 years mining experience sent into the mine to see what was going on said in His evidence to the Royal Commission that He smelled the strong smell of burned diesel, Methane gas when combusted has NO smell, the electricians description of the smell, ”like AMFRO explosives which He had experienced a number of times as a miner in South Africa”,

      Has the ‘truth’ emerged from Pike River, my opinion says no and it probably never will….

  23. vto 23

    Pike River is the epitome of all that is evil about the neoliberal approach.

    It disgusts me on every level.

    I spit in their faces – Bill Birch for enacting the h&s legislation, Pike River management for not operating the system, all shareholders for running such a short-term shoddy operation, previous governments for not dealing with the identified problems within the sector, all shareholders and directors for being prepared to spend more at Pike on further mining but not on cleaning up after the killings, and now this government for earning money from the dead miners and walking away from the dead miners.

    pittooooeeeee………. gob stink

    • Paul 23.1

      Yeah and some people on this site think it’s worse to use bad language.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 23.1.1

        Looks like deflection to me: I think what they’re really upset about is the evidence that their faith based political philosophy costs lives.

    • aerobubble 23.2

      Lets not forget that many National voters like the idea of being a contractor, and essentially that’s what the spokesperson for the dead miners meant when he said Key was blaming the miners, inferring that the miners expected and accepted a non-unionized workplace and its flow on effects. That contractors take on the risks. I thought half were employees and the other half contractors, but I suspect they could have walked out and forced Australia type regulative inspections.

      Seriously. When employers force contracting on their employees, its up to the union movement to clearly indicate the risks and loses. And Key position should be regaled from every box, cliff top, mine shaft, and work place in the land.

      When you contract Key will walk away, you boss will walk away, their job done and your out of pocket. And guess what many contractors need to hear about this because they vote National.

      The sad fact though is the very west coasters that want compensation also are happy to have more mining, and never talk about unionizing the work force.

      • vto 23.2.1

        and therein lies the source of the solution.

        history is the understanding.

      • Colonial Viper 23.2.2

        Lets not forget that many National voters like the idea of being a contractor

        Nah. The move to contractors, non-unionised workplaces and insecure work was driven by the ECA and Labour never properly undid it with the ERA.

        The Left has been expert at creating electoral canes for itself.

        • thechangeling

          The ERA was watered (centralised wage bargaining was abandoned in favour of a continuation of enterprise based) down because Helen Clark was allegedly bullied by big business at various conferences she attended early on in her first term. Can’t see that happening this time around!

          • aerobubble

            I disagree. I believe Labour had to work in the context of neo-liberalism to gain power, its failure was not the pushing of policies that would have made it unelectable, it was in not understanding and imbedding that understanding in their language. That profit idealized perfection driven economics was loony, even today Labour cannot abide calling the National party out for loony economics.

            Sure, I get people might read I’m against contracting, I’m not, I against the market failure that did not fully inform those who contract out to the real costs of doing so, the higher insurance they would need to take out and so the higher remunerations they needed to be asking for.

  24. lolitas brother 24

    Frank 116 November 2013 at 7:29 am
    ” While I would usually be the first in line to give Key a sharp left in the gob. Yeah, nah.”

    yeah nah yeah bro , cool., watch Cunliffe go down

  25. Tracey 25

    Will he pay the families from the airnz sell down?


    the unions stood behind the miners and their families. The govt put money before safety and has an obligation.

  26. David 26

    I totally agree that the government should contribute to compensation for the miners but I get saddened by the fact that not all parties seem to be standing up and accepting responsibility.

    I would like to think I drive health and safety in the company I work for and I have heard nothing said about the fact the workers were putting plastic bags over the gas sensors.

    Daniel rockhouse told his father after the fact they were doing it and it is highly likely the other shifts were as well. All in sundry is responsible for this accident including those who perished.

    The unions representatives were aware of the plastic bags what did they do? Complained after people died. I actually feel sorry for Peter Whittall as he sacked people for breaching health and safety procedures when he found about about them. His mistake however was allowing a mine with only one entrance along with others

    The department of labour should have been prosecuted, Daniel rockhouse should have been prosecuted, the unions should have been prosecuted and anyone else who turned a blind eye to poor procedures at that mine

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