Families involved in the Pike River Mine tragedy are organising their own experts to re-enter the mine.
Speaking on TV3’s ‘The Nation’ this weekend, their spokesperson, Bernie Monk, said the families’ recommendations to the Royal Commission inquiry into the disaster had “fallen on deaf ears”.
“We've tried all avenues. You know we've been back to the government several times on this, and of course they always say that their experts said it's too unsafe. Well that’s not quite the truth... So as from tomorrow, Sunday, we've got our experts coming in from the UK, and we're going to make this happen.”
“All experienced miners here on the West Coast say to us that you can never judge a mine till you get down there and have a look for yourself, and that’s our first priority – to get down the drift.
ABOVE: Watch Mr Monk's interview on TV3's The Nation.
Mr Monk said the team of experts would include Dr David Creedy and Bob Stevenson from the UK, and Dave Feickert from Wanganui.
He said the government has “always put us in the hands of a bankrupt company such as Pike River and also a defunct company in Solid Energy and they’ve sidestepped us and used them as their pawn to try and communicate with us. Fortunately Solid Energy are communicating with us now and are letting us do what needs to be done, which should have been done at least 15 to 18 months ago.”
Nonetheless, Mr Monk was confident the Royal Commission would come out with “what the country needs to hear”, when its findings are released to the family on Monday and public thereafter.
“Well I just want the truth and that’s basically it.”
Lawyer for the EPMU in the Royal Commission inquiry, Nigel Hampton QC, said, “The Union hopes for a return to what had been called, in common terms, Check Inspectors, workers' representatives underground and within the industry that have a real say in health and safety underground.
“I think it will have some recommendations going beyond health and safety in mining... It should mark a return to sensible regulation of high hazard industries.”