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Pike River Mine and Backroom Deals
Coincidentally, New Zealand’s justice system is being called a laughing stock after all charges against Pike River Mine boss Peter Whittall were dropped.
In what looks like a decision to avoid a messy court case that would’ve shamed NZ’s regulatory mechanisms for mines (previously called “third world”) and the ministers responsible for the dogma of surgical mining techniques on a gassy, fractured mine deep beneath Department of Conservation land.
Pike River Mine was used as the poster child for surgical mining by both Prime Minister John Key, and Jerry Brownlee.
Families of the deceased men are to be paid compensation of $110,000 each, this is now being referred to as “blood money”.
Prime Minister John Key went to great pains to point out that the Pike River Mining Disaster decision was “firmly based on legal principles.” However:
Labour Party justice and labour spokesman Andrew Little said it should be left to the courts to decide if a person had broken the law, “not some back-room deal between lawyers”.
The Council of Trade Unions may ask for a judicial review into the decision to drop charges against Whittall (source)
“Blood Money” takes the heat off the government
Geoffrey Podger, the acting deputy chief executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment‘s health and safety group, said legal advice was taken before deciding to accept the offer. source
“Mr Podger denied suggestions the fact the case could shine attention on failings of the ministry’s predecessors, the Department of Labour, was part of the reason for not prosecuting, saying independent legal advice from the crown solicitor was taken.
“We have always said that our performance over Pike River was unsatisfactory,” he said…” source
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Nicholas Davidson QC, the lawyer for the deceased men of the Pike River Coalmine disaster, has reportedly said New Zealand has a third world record for safety in its mines.
According to a report by Stuff:
“A report into the Pike River coalmine disaster reveals New Zealand’s “Third World” health and safety record for mining, according to the lawyer for the grieving families.
Nicholas Davidson QC said families were surprised to see how poorly the country compared internationally for mining safety.
He quoted from the report, the country’s 12th royal commission or commission of inquiry into mining disasters, which noted ‘‘lessons from the past, learnt at the cost of lives, have not been retained’’… more here plus video
- New Zealand drops Pike River charges against Whittall (bbc.co.uk)
- NZ police will not file charges over Pike River mine blast (bbc.co.nz) charges against mine management dropped July 2013
- Pike River Mine Tragedy (ireport.cnn.com)
- Charges against Whittall dropped (radionz.co.nz)
- Pike families furious over compo deal (stuff.co.nz)
- Charges dropped against NZ mine boss over deadly blast (abc.net.au)
- Whittall case: CTU wants judicial review of decision to drop charges (radionz.co.nz)
- NZ mine payments not ‘blood money’ (news.com.au)