Home > The Body Politic > National’s disdain for taking responsibility

National’s disdain for taking responsibility


Continued from: National’s disdain for our credulity


Groucho Marx  politicics


When things go horribly wrong – whether by accident or negligence – we expect mishaps to be investigated. If a mishap is due to the latter – someone stuffed up –  we demand that those responsible be held to account.

This is what it looks like when people are held to account for their actions,


Pacific Blue pilot fined, ordered to retrain

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Pacific Blue pilot fined, ordered to retrain


Rena captain and officer jailed for 7 months

Acknowledgement: Waikato Times – Rena captain and officer jailed for 7 months


Capital + Merchant's directors face judge

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Capital + Merchant’s directors face judge


This is what it looks like when no one – especially when in a position of authority – is held to account,


No blame for Pike River tragedy

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – No blame for Pike River tragedy


Calls mount for Pike River prosecutions

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Calls mount for Pike River prosecutions


It simply beggers belief and defies understanding that a Minister of the Crown – Simon Bridges, to be specific – could utter words like this,

At the time of Pike River there’s been serous systemic failures in the old Department of Labour, and as a health and safety regulator they were clearly dysfunctional and ineffectual.

But the problems were truly systematic and no one person was to blame.

Acknowledgement:  Fairfax Media – Pike River report: Learn from tragedy – Minister

So  how on Earth has Bill Birch –  when he was Minister for Labour in the 1990s and was  the architect of de-regulation of the mining sector – gotten off so lightly in the media?

For Birch to say,

It raises the question of why weren’t they addressed if they were obvious deficiencies in the legislation – I don’t believe they were. I think systemic failure is more about people not putting the systems in place.

– is a travesty of everything that decent New Zealanders believe in.

Basically, what this “gentlemen” is saying is that because we, as a country, were lucky enough to get away with no disaster in our mines up until the day that Pike River Mine exploded in a flash of explosive methane – that his “reforms” cannot in any way be blamed?!?!

How in gods’ name does that make any sense whatsoever?!

Why on Earth has the media  not jumped all over this?!

The record of Birch’s “reforms” is readily available for those with the eyes to see, and the inclination to use those eyes.

As I wrote in an earlier blogpost on 29 October last year,

The gutting of the mines inspectorate and permitting self-regulation by mining companies,  had it’s genesis in the early 1990s – again the Bolger-led National government –  where Bill Birch introduced the so-called “Health and Safety in Employment Act”, in 1992.

Under the guise of  “eliminating red tape”, this dangerous piece of legislation allowed mining companies to self-monitor their own activities,

“39. Prior to the enactment of the HSE Act, New Zealand had a ‘mishmash of legislation’[5], in which the duties of employers and others tended to be set out prescriptively and in considerable detail. Under this regime, specification standards directed duty holders as to precisely what preventive measures they must take in particular circumstances. Such standards identified inputs, telling duty holders how to meet a goal, rather than health and safety outcomes to be achieved

42. In undertaking reform, New Zealand, like the UK and Australia before it, was strongly influenced by the British Robens Report of 1972. This report resulted in widespread legislative change, from the traditional, ‘command and control’ model, imposing detailed obligations on firms enforced by a state inspectorate, to a more ‘self-regulatory’ regime, using less direct means to achieve broad social goals

46. New Zealand embraced the Robens philosophy of self-regulation somewhat belatedly, but with particular enthusiasm and in the context of a political environment that was strongly supportive of deregulation. Indeed, in various forms, deregulation (and reducing the regulatory burden on industry more broadly) was strongly endorsed by the Labour Government that came into power in 1984 and by the National Government that succeeded it in 1990. The HSE Act was a product of this deregulatory environment and in its initial version was stripped of some of the key measures recommended by Robens, not least tripartism, worker participation and an independent executive. It was regarded, so we were told, as a ‘necessary evil’ at a time when the predominant public policy goal was to enhance business competitiveness…”

See: Review of the Department of Labour’s interactions with Pike River Coal Limited

The conclusion of this experiment in free market de-regulation lies deep within the Pike River Mine, with the entombed bodies of 29 dead miners.

Unfortunately, the architects of this de-regulation, Bill Birch Birch, Ruth Richardson, and Jim Bolger were never prosecuted for their part in this tragedy.

They should have been.

Of all the political Parties in Parliament, National holds itself up as the torch-bearer for “personal  responsibility”. Their website is littered with references to being the Party of  “personal responsibility (see: National’s Vision For New Zealand).

Where is the responsibility being shown here?

How can 29 people have been killed in a disaster that should never have been allowed to occur – and no one is responsible?

When ordinary people commit acts that endanger the lives of others, or even lead to death(s), the State is quick to hold the (alleged) perpetrators to account.

When acts of endangerments  are committed, leading to death(s), and the State is involved – it appears that  no one person was to blame”.

It’s a “systemic” thing.

Well, to hell with that.

I hold the following to account for the deaths of 29 men at Pike River Mine,

  • Bill Birch
  • Jim Bolger
  • the management of Pike River Mine
  • and the CEOs of the Labour Department from 1992 to 19 November 2010

Every one of these people should be prosecuted for varying degrees of malfeasance leading to manslaughter.

Or else, maybe, we should all just break the law whenever we feel like it,  and not be prosecuted?

We can say it’s  a “systemic” thing.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 April 2013.




Previous related blogposts

Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis

W.o.F “reforms” – coming to a crash in your suburb


Dominion Post: No blame for Pike River tragedy (11 April 2013)

Fairfax Media: Pike River report: Learn from tragedy – Minister (11 April 2013)

Radio NZ:  Calls mount for Pike River prosecutions (11 April 2013)

Radio NZ:  Lack of consquences over Pike disaster ‘unsatisfactory’ (13 April 2013)




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  1. Byron
    29 May 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Yeah I’ve been noticing the same thing. The rules apply to us plebes but not to those rich wankers. Up to now I’ve never bothered to vote but this time I think I’ll give it to the Mana Party just to piss Key and his rich mates of. I’ll make sure I’m sober on voting day eh? HA!

  2. 29 May 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Ever seen this?


    Bathurst Resources and L & M Energy
    On June 19, 2010, the Australia mining firm, Bathurst Resources announced it was planning to invest $US60 million in development of a new coalmine in New Zealand.
    It would involve two companies Bathurst Resources and L & M Coal (a subsidiary of L & M Energy) based in Christchurch in a joint venture. From 2008 they had been in the process of seeking an access agreement from the Department of Conservation to develop a large new opencast high value coking coal coalmine on the Denniston plateau, 13km east of Westport. In the agreement L &M Energy would sell its subsidiary L & M Coal (which holds the exploration and mining permits for the area), to Bathurst and retain a 5% share.http://www.investinnz.co.nz/news/australian-mining-firm-bathurst-resources-invest-us

    According to The Press 27 September 2010, L & M Coal was seeking 16 consents from the West Coast Regional Council and eight from the Buller District Council for the proposed $NZ84 million mine which was expected to last about 30 years based on recent drilling by Bathurst. Submissions were to close on 22 October 2010.http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/south-island/4171608/Consent-sought-for-new-c
    L & M Energy:
    L & M Energy, which owns L & M Coal a New Zealand focused energy company, is listedon the Australian and New Zealand stock exchanges. The Chairman of the L & M Group of private energy companies based in Christchurch is A. Geoffrey Loudon.
    He says he is an international investor with New Zealand family roots going back to the Hokitika gold fieldsin 1875. He has over 40 years vast experience as a geologist and as a mining professional and is based in Queenstown, New Zealand. He is also Chairman of Nautilus Minerals Inc., a Canadian-based seabed minerals developer; is a Director and founder of Lihir Gold Ltd, a PNG gold mine developed by Rio Tinto in 1995, and is a founder and investor in PeruCopper Inc. He also spent 19 years in mining finance with Kleinwort Benson Group based in the City of London and Channel Islands (now owned by RHJ International). Kleinwort Benson, incidentally, managed the re-privatization of British Aerospace the first of the British Government’s state asset sales organized by N. M. Rothschild & Sons. It also managed the flotation of Cable & Wireless, and advised the British Government on the sale of British Telecom etc. etc.

    http://haroonhaider.com/Monday, 10 October 2011 The Vision Corporation


    Just a quick look at a couple of the other directors on L&M Energy’s Board of Directors provides a good insight as to who really is in control of the company behind the scenes.Douglas W. Ellenor, a Non Executive Director, previously spent 25 years working for Royal Dutch Shell in executive positions. Charles P. Lutyens, a Non Executive Director, based inLondon, was formerly Managing Director of Rio Tinto India, Head of Project Finance for theRio Tinto Group.Geoffrey Loudon is also the Chairman and a Non Executive Director of Nautilus Minerals, based in Canada with operations offices in Brisbane Australia, Port Moresby Papua New Guinea and Nuku’alofa Tonga. The company holds tenements in territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones of Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Zealand for a total area of about 524,000 sq. km. The company’s largest cornerstone shareholders are three of the world’s largest resource companies, including Anglo American(11.1%), Teck Resources (6.8%) and Gazmetall Holding (Cypruss) Ltd (21%). The giant global mining company Anglo American, based in London, is controlled by JP Morgan, the Oppenheimer and Rothschild banking syndicates. It had a market capitalization at June 2009 of around $US25 billion. Teck Resources is another London-controlled mining company based in Vancouver, Canada. Gazmetall is a subsidiary of the giant Metalloinvest Group, oneof Russia’s largest iron ore producers headed by one of Vladimir Putin’s Oligarchs, Alisher Usmanov, and funded by Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and the Russian bank VTB Capital. Usmanov also owns TV stations, newspapers and the British soccer club Arsenal. L & M Energy Ltd and NZOG are partly owned by a covert subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, New Zealand Central Securities Depository Ltd.

    See:http://www.coys.co.nz/company/?no=644859-NEW+ZEALAND=CENTRAL+SECU (click on: “owns other companies”) to see what other companies are secretly owned as well.So once again, it is the foreign international banking pirates that are really in control – not Mr. Geoffrey Loudon living in Queenstown!

    Bathurst Resources:

    Bathurst Resources Ltd shares are listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
    The major shareholders in the company are: Bank of America Corporation, Merrill Lynch International(based in London), Merrill Lynch (Australia) Ltd and Merrill Lynch (Australia) Futures Ltd(based in Sydney). Immediately before and after the Pike River Mine disaster, someone was buying up shares in the company.

    As at mid-December 2010, the last ‘Notice of change of interests of substantial holder
    ’ was on 29 November 2010 increasing shareholding from11.90% to 13.0% in name of Bank of America Corp signed by the bank’s Vice President.Merrill Lynch is owned by Bank of America.http://www.bathurstresources.com/- then click on ‘Investor Information’ then ‘Announcements’ then ‘Change in Substantial Holding’ Pdf. New Zealand Prime Minister Hon. John Key, in the Government’s Register of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament: Summary of Annual Returns J7
    for 2010 states that hehas interests in Bank of America. So what’s going on?

    http://haroonhaider.com/Monday, 10 October 2011 The Vision Corporation


    Interestingly, the New Zealand Prime Minister Hon. John Key, up to 2001, before he headed back to New Zealand to fulfill a long held ambition to stand for Parliament for the National Party, was working in an executive capacity as a currency trader / investment banker at Merrill Lynch offices in London, Singapore and Sydney. On 28 May 2010,
    The Standard published an article, ‘Key attempts misdirection, blind trust questions remain unanswered’about Key’s “Whitechapel” assets hidden in his blind trust “Algate.”’ What is the New Zealand Prime Minister doing? Shouldn’t he be openly declaring his financial interests like everybody else? What is he hiding? These things should be properly investigated and broughtout into the light of day should they not?

    http://thestandard.org.nz/key-attemps-misdirection-blind-trust-questions-remain-unans A report written by Ross Louthean on 1 December 2010 entitled,
    ‘Bathurst chairman tells shareholders open pit mining will negate mining concerns
    ’ stated; “The Chairman of Bathurst Resources Ltd told shareholders in Sydney on Monday (29 November 2010),that the company by developing open cut mines
    would not face the same issues that hit Pike River Coal Ltd as its underground mine in the nearby Paparoa Range… Munro said that with the growth of Bathurst’s share price its market capitalization now stood at more than $A350 million ($NZ450 million) and the company was on the doorstep of being in the ASX top 300companies. He said that as the company neared 2011 it had advanced the obtaining of regulatory approval from the NZ Government and was expected to announce soon an offtake agreement with offtake finance agreements with major corporations…” PM John Keyis head of the New Zealand Government. What has the New Zealand Prime Minister and his associates been doing behind the scenes? – with his blind “Algate trust”?

    Surely, it is time for this sort of secret “blind trust” chicanery to stop?
    Did he, too, have a vested interest in putting Pike River Coal into receivership? – Closing the mine down? Did he, too, have some sort of nefarious behind-the-scenes involvement with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch increasing its shareholding in Bathurst on 29 November 2010? This whole process going on behind thescenes is very “fishy” to say the least. Is this what the public of New Zealand really wants? “

  3. KJT
    29 May 2013 at 9:46 pm

    The party of individual responsibility, which never takes responsibility for anything!

  4. KJT
    29 May 2013 at 9:48 pm

    It would be interesting if politicians were held to the same standard of “strict liability” as ship Captains.

  5. 29 May 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Funny how National’s all for personal responsibility if you’re poor, a beneficiary, a low paid employee, or a victim of the Christchurch earthquake… but if you’re a failing finance company, a state owned enterprise that’s been run into the ground through a combination of incompetence and naked greed, or a former National Party member or associate, then hey, all aboard the gravy train. Bastards.

  6. 30 May 2013 at 8:25 am

    How I remember the Birch “Deregulation” period where we made a submission against the deregulation of the NZ coast line and what would occur if they went ahead with this madness…..and so it has come to pass……another example was an Asian ship, the Pacific Charger, landing on Baring Head with a lighthouse in place and working, and when rescued the first words spoken by the navigating officer was, “What island we on?” Then there were the Chinese ships coming down to NZ full of filthy Yangtse river ballast water discharging it in our coastal waters and rivers…..yuck! Nice one Bill Birch.
    Decapitating then selling off the NZ Shipping industry was an enormous economic loss as we were in a position to become the Maersk of the Pacific and beyond. What amazes me is that they never learn……. haven’t they heard of re-regulation ? Of course they had to get rid of those annoying unions in the shipping industry some how – deregulation will do it. Didn’t they know there was an arbitration process and the courts sorted it?

  7. 30 May 2013 at 10:38 am

    Mcclairy . Deregulation was all about union / worker bashing.

    To hell with the consequenses.

  8. 30 May 2013 at 11:08 am

    Brilliant comments and analysis from you all…

    Fascinating info, Penny and McClairy. Worthy of blogposts in their own right.

  9. 30 May 2013 at 12:05 pm

    From above : “Interestingly, the New Zealand Prime Minister Hon. John Key, up to 2001, before he headed back to New Zealand to fulfill a long held ambition to stand for Parliament for the National Party, was working in an executive capacity as a currency trader / investment banker at Merrill Lynch offices in London, Singapore and Sydney.”

    Off topic but have you noticed Goldman Sachs is involved in the next Energy sell off – now getting to the truth…Lazard Australasia did the MR sale but they also have an arrangement with “The Sale of State Assets” departments of ML/BoA (where Key has his fiat money invested and a shareholder) and GS. All in the family it would seem. This needs work ! Time to drag out the whistle and blow a bit.

  10. Shaun
    24 June 2014 at 4:19 am

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs is really nice, keep it up!

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with how the Nats behave. Arrogant to the max!

  1. 29 May 2013 at 8:46 pm
  2. 6 August 2013 at 8:01 am
  3. 28 December 2013 at 11:28 am

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