Posted on the #StandWithPike page this morning:
Six years ago this morning, 31 men went to work in a coal mine.
29 of them still lay there.
Since Daniel and Russell stumbled alone, unhelped, out of the drift that afternoon, no-one has ever gone back up… not to attempt a rescue, not to investigate the crime scene, not to bring the dead men home.
Doug White and Peter Whittall, the men responsible for this worksite that just killed nearly its entire workforce, were effectively given control of the rescue. They insisted none be attempted, then after all reasonable hope was gone insisted the mine not be sealed, causing an inevitable series of massive explosions and fires.
Peter Whittall was allowed to opt out of testifying to the Royal Commission because he might incriminate himself.
When he was finally charged with 29 counts of manslaughter, Worksafe did a secret deal with his insurance company the night before Court, allowing him to buy his way out of these severe criminal charges for $100k per head. He was immediately allowed to leave the country a free man.
To this day no-one has been held accountable. No-one has served a day in jail. No attempt has been made to recover the men. The closest anyone has come to arrest was mother Sonya Rockhouse and widow Anna Osborne, threatened with it last week by Minister Nick Smith for desperately trying to stop “the coffin lid being slammed shut” on their men.
The world’s foremost expert on mine ventilation says the drift can be safely re-entered and searched. New Zealand’s former Chief Mines Inspector says it can be done and he’d be “honoured” to lead the mission. John Key says “his advice” says it’s too dangerous to be considered.
On Monday next week, Solid Energy intend to mark the anniversary by beginning to unload over one hundred truckloads of concrete into the mine’s only entrance, creating a twenty metre thick, solid floor-to-ceiling wall, blocking it forever.
The families want justice, they want the truth, and they want their men home, out of the crime scene that killed them.
New Zealand, what have we become when any of this is too much for them to ask of us?