Home > A Little Blue Marble Called Earth > A hole they all dug?

A hole they all dug?

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‘Obvious’ lack of safety measures

Friday Jul 22, 2011. While Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall doesn’t think his company had been in tarnished by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, the spokesman for the victims’ families said it was obvious there was a lack of safety measures for even small emergencies in the mine.

Bernie Monk said the first phase of the inquiry – which has wrapped up today after two weeks – had got a lot more information out into the public arena than the families had expected. “I think we are going to get to the truth. There’s no two ways about that,” he said outside court.

Tears had often been shed by family members attending the inquiry. “We’ve been dragged through this for going on nine months now and it opens up wounds every time we come to do something like this. “But we will be tough, we are supporting each other and we’ll get there.”

Responding to inquiry evidence about possible escape routes from the mine, Mr Monk said it was obvious there was a lack of safety measures for even small emergencies in the mine.

Continued.
To be fair, it’s difficult to comment as the Commission is yet to hear all witnesses and consider all evidence. Going purely by an incomplete perception alone, I offer these observations;

  • The changes to legislation in the early 1990s by a reform-obsessed National Government  seems to have created the proverbial ticking time bomb. As with the leaky/rotting homes syndrome, the de-regulation of mining and safety has resulted in inevitable disaster.
  • The Pike River Mine company seems to have operated using short cuts, taking advantage of the de-regulation of the 1990s. And like other hostile environments such as the sea and outer space, mining is an unforgiving activity where  eventually good luck will run out.
  • Whilst National may have facilitated the environment where all the elements came together for an eventual catastrophe – it shouldn’t be forgotten that Labour had nine years to address this problem and re-instate mines inspectors. They obviously did not.
  • And lastly, where was the miners’ union? Why did the remaining safety inspector(s) not blow the whistle? (I’m not even going to ask about the media, which seems to have fallen asleep-at-the-wheel, only to awaken when there are suitable crime stories to report, or stranded penguins that go off the Cuteness Scale…)  And Bernie Monk stated that the mine was “obviously unsafe”.

Yet, no one spoke up.

I have this nagging feeling that society (via a Facebook village mob, again?) and a headline-hungry media will look toward a scapegoat.  The truth, though, is that complicity may spread far and wide on this matter.

 

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