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Anderton: Pike River Tragedy Speech

Anderton: Pike River Tragedy Speech

Progressive leader and Wigram MP Jim Anderton spoke in Parliament today on the Pike River tragedy.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of the 29 miners in Greymouth, and my thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones they left behind. As a nation we have clung onto a glimmer of hope in the past six days. With every passing hour we put our faith in the possibility of a miracle.

Fears over entering the mine safely, which had been such a concern to Superintendent Gary Knowles, were well justified when the second explosion occurred yesterday. He and Pike River Chief Executive Peter Whittall have shown calm and intelligent leadership and great strength at such a difficult time. And no praise is high enough for all of those who were part of the plans to secure a rescue of these men.

Hope for the 29 men trapped down the Pike River Mine disappeared yesterday. This event has been a tragedy for the West Coast and its community. It brought back sad memories to many who have unfortunately been in this space before.

Mining is an iconic industry on the West Coast. That does not however suggest that the rest of us have no responsibility for ensuring that such a tragedy does not happen again. I refuse to accept that any of the deaths are a necessary cost of mining. It is the responsibility of all of us, from mine operators to the government and this parliament to take steps to strengthen mine safety so that the safety of all of our miners is our number one concern.

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Pike River is a modern state-of-the-art mine with presumably all the latest safety technology, but that didn’t save the lives of the 29 men we lost yesterday.

The new mine was on the same coal seam as the mine in Brunner, where 65 men were killed by choking gas in 1896. It echoed the Strongman mine explosion, which killed 19 miners in 1967. And there have been, even as recently as last year, many other similar disasters in other countries.

How many more deaths must we experience in this industry before we ask some very serious questions about the viability of this type of mine?

It will be the best possible tribute to those who died if we carefully examine the most comprehensive safety means possible before we put any more miners in harms way.

Since colonisation, the West Coast has a long history of mining. The risk of mining has always been faced by miners and as a consequence, their families.

We must, however, quite simply, make mining conditions safer.

Today of course, is a time to reflect on the human tragedy of this latest mining disaster. But these precious lost lives must be treasured through the efforts of all of us to see that this kind of catastrophe does not occur again”.


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