It is much easier to honour the dead than it is to care for the living.
As a government and as a country we honoured the Pike River dead, as was right and proper. But now the hard part starts. What are we going to do for the Pike River survivors? The families who lost loved ones. The fellow workers who have now lost their livelihood.
The plight of the contract workers is particularly dire:
Pike River contract staff left out in cold
Out-of-work Pike River miners will start finding out today whether they have jobs, and if not, how much they will be paid out.
However contractors, and the families of contractors who were killed in the mine, may not receive a cent.
About 100 contractors were employed by Pike River Coal, including Milton Osborne, one of the 29 men killed.
His grieving wife, Anna, sobbed as she spoke of her concerns about provision for her family.
“My children have no father because of this and it’s something that should never have happened in the first place,” she said last night.
“And because of this we are now trying to deal with what’s owed to us. He [Milton] worked his arse off for that company and it’s a slap in the face to say, well, he’s dead and there’s possibly no money coming because of it.”
At a press conference yesterday, Pike River chief executive Peter Whittall said there was no obligation to continue paying contractors.
The interview with Anna Osborne is on Morning Report here.
It is time for the government to step up with a package to support all Pike River survivors. Because it would cost a fraction of what it costs to bail out rich investors. Because it would be an incredibly popular move with the country. Because it is the right thing to do.