Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little is trying to look busy

Andrew Little (left) with Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Michael Craig

Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little today announced the establishment of a new stand-alone government department, the Pike River Recovery Agency, Te Kahui Whakamana Rua Tekau ma Iwa.

The Agency will work in partnership with the Pike River families to plan for decisions on the manned re-entry of the drift of the Pike River Mine.

“The coalition Government is committed to Pike River re-entry. We will work closely with the families and involve them at every stage,” Mr Little said.

“The new agency will make sure that the families and their experts are listened to, respected, and included. It is crucial to make every effort to recover the drift, so it can be comprehensively investigated.

In short, we’re not going in until we’ve talked each other to death.  We are relying on this process to always have someone that doesn’t agree with the others, so we will continue to talk until we reach consensus.  As that won’t happen during this term of government, there will not be a re-entry into the mine before the next election.  

“The new agency will be a government department, headed by a chief executive, who will report to me.

“The purpose of the agency is to gather evidence to better understand what happened in 2010, with an eye to preventing future mining tragedies and to give the Pike River families and victims’ overdue closure and peace of mind.

“The stand-alone department will ensure resources are not diverted to other activities, and will provide accountability to Parliament. The final decision on whether to re-enter the drift will be made by me, informed by expert advice from the agency.

“I have planned on the basis that the new agency will – depending on my decision – execute a plan for complete recovery of the drift by the end of March 2019. Exact timing will depend on technical assessments.”

The Pike River families have said that safety is their first priority, and the Government agrees.

“The families and the Government are going into this with eyes wide open. We agree that the decision about manned re-entry must be based on a technical assessment of the risks and advice that risks can be reasonably managed.

“The public can be confident that we are committed to transparent and impartial decision-making, based on robust advice about feasibility, safety and cost,” Mr Little said.

If those Pike families think they’re going to get anywhere with this, they’re fooling themselves.  Plus, entering the drift is pointless.  We already know there are no remains in the drift.   But nobody is talking about going further into the mine.   Without a doubt, safety concerns will preclude it.

 


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