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Clark fails the Berrymans

Don Brash National Party Leader

27 April 2005

Clark fails the Berrymans

National Party Leader Don Brash says Helen Clark's refusal to act over the Berryman bridge collapse is extraordinary, given her comments from the opposition benches following the collapse.

"Everything now points to a grave injustice against the Berrymans, but still Helen Clark will not live up to the promises she made," says Dr Brash.

In a media release dated 27 April 1998, Ms Clark said "the Government's refusal to enter into mediation over compensation for Keith and Margaret Berryman highlights the abandonment of rural New Zealand".

She said then: "The Berrymans are victims in many ways. They are victims of bad legislation and victims of an over-zealous government department... I feel really sorry for these people... I think their lives have been ruined."

Dr Brash says a highly relevant but suppressed Army report had come to light in the past few weeks, and made a mockery of Helen Clark's inaction.

"This is an increasingly murky situation, made worse by the fact that the report has still technically not been made public," says Dr Brash.

"Seven years after Ms Clark made those comments, little progress has been made on the issue. In fact it seems information is being suppressed in the hope that it will go away.

"There is a huge gap between Helen Clark's promises then and Michael Cullen's forlorn attempt now to hide behind the skirts of the Solicitor General in seeking to have the inquest reopened.

"In light of Ms Clark's comments in 1998, and the fact that she has not kept her word, this case will certainly not go away.

"Helen Clark should ensure appropriate compensation is paid to the Berrymans, and should launch an inquiry into why the conclusions of the report were withheld from the coroner, the select committee, and the Minister," says Dr Brash.

Ends

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