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English needs to show some leadership on Pike River

A stop to sealing work is only the first step, physical re-entry is feasible, safe, and needed to get justice for the Pike families, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“Bill English got it wrong when he ruled out mine experts physically re-entering the drift.

“Tony Forster told the select committee today that using robots or remote cameras, as has been already tried, is fine but it doesn’t change the fact that people need to re-enter the drift to recover any bodies and evidence that is found.

“Tony Forster revealed that he has re-entered mines in similar circumstances safely and there is no reason it can’t be done at Pike River.

“At today’s hearings, Solid Energy conceded to me that re-entry into the Pike River Mine drift is feasible and admitted that cost is a barrier. This flies in the face of National’s claims that money is no object and the only thing stopping re-entry was a liability issue.

“I have presented Parliament with a solution to the question of director’s liability, and National blocked it. They are fast running out of excuses.

“Why is National dragging its heels on this? Where is the leadership from Bill English? Why is National’s story at odds with Solid Energy’s?

“It looks too much like Bill English is resorting to half-measures in an attempt to push the issue to one side until after the election. The Pike families deserve better. Kiwis expect better,” says Andrew Little.