Acting Minister welcomes release of Pike River report

  • Christopher Finlayson
Labour

Acting Labour Minister Chris Finlayson has welcomed the public release of the report of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy.

Earlier today in Greymouth, the Government released the report to the families of the 29 men who died in the Pike River Mine on 19 November 2010.

The report found multiple operational and systemic issues with Pike River Coal and its operation of the mine. It also found that government regulation of mine safety has been ineffective, with a decline in the support of the mining inspectorate in the past 20 years.

The Government broadly accepts all 16 of the Royal Commission’s recommendations that cover administrative reform, stronger regulation, changes to mining legislation, improving workplace health and safety, and emergency management.

“I believe it is our duty to the 29 miners who died and their families to oversee the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations,” Mr Finlayson says.

“Officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have been instructed to undertake the work in the labour area and provide advice to Cabinet.

“In the two years since this tragedy, concerted action has been taken to improve safety in mines and all other work places.”

Mr Finlayson says as soon as the scale of the Pike River tragedy and the underlying organisational issues within the then Department of Labour became clear, the Government took action by:

  • Completing a safety audit of all underground coal mines by independent experts from the Australian mining industry to ensure there were no immediate dangers to other miners.
  • Committing $1.5 million in funding for the establishment of the High Hazards Unit.
  • Boosting workplace health and safety funding by $37 million over four years in Budget 2012.

“The Government has also set a target to reduce deaths and injuries in the workplace by 25 per cent by 2020, and has set up an independent taskforce to review the health and safety system in this country. We are expecting broad, innovative recommendations from the taskforce in April next year.”

Some of the Royal Commission’s recommended actions have already been initiated by the Government, including work to review the regulatory framework for mining and develop official guidance for mine operators.

A Bill to strengthen the mine permitting process that will require applicants to demonstrate that their mine will be safe is currently before Parliament and set to be passed next year.

MBIE - Labour is in the middle of a major restructuring around how it delivers health and safety regulation in general.

The Ministry has already started a significant amount of work to improve its performance. It will keep progressing and will merge that work into its implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The report is available at: http://www.pikeriver.royalcommission.govt.nz.