Full payout for the victims’ families in the Pike River mining disaster is uncertain.
Speaking on The Nation, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges would not comment on whether the government will make up the short-fall for Pike River’s inability to pay full compensation to the widows and next of kin from the 2010 explosion.
He said ACC has already made a big payment and the government will be letting the legal processes draw out before making any further decisions.
“But I mean what is true, and I think as the Prime Minister has said in terms of ACC, the payout there has been the biggest workplace payout ever.”
“Now look, as I say there's related court cases going on, I haven't received legal advice on these matters yet, so I don’t want to be pontificating on these things,” said Mr Bridges.
Mr Bridges went on to say the mining industry has a bright future ahead as New Zealand is becoming an attractive place for foreign oil and mining companies to do business due to its relatively low tax rates for oil production compared to the rest of the OECD.
ABOVE: Bridges on The Nation
He denied the government is selling itself short on taxes, but is competing with the likes of Australia.
“Well I don’t think we are, but of course it is a matter of being competitive and productive, and I think what we're seeing in Australia at the moment is a situation where they perhaps are increasingly less competitive and productive than say in New Zealand,” he said.
Mr Bridges said the mining industry is contributing more money to the government’s coffers than any other industry and a significant amount of it goes to public services.
“Actually this industry is paying over the odds compared with any other industry in New Zealand you can talk about. That’s 800 million a year on current figures, we're putting into schools, hospitals and so on,” he said.
Mr Bridges doesn’t predict a big increase in mining but he envisions more high paying jobs for the economy.
“It's thousands of jobs, 8000 directly indirectly in petroleum, about the same again in mining, and they're high paying jobs,” he said.
Mr Bridges also denied that it was the oil companies that pressured the government to pass legislation to stop protests at sea.
He said it was the government’s decision, and it is intended to keep both the corporations’ vessels and protestors out of harm’s way.
“It was ours, our Cabinet makes decisions on the basis of what we think is good public policy.”
“These vessels can't turn around on the head of a pin, they're exceptionally dangerous. They're putting not only the people on board's lives at risk, but actually their own lives at risk,” said Mr Bridges.