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Govt must make safety changes to mining industry now

22 June 2011

Govt must make safety changes to mining industry now

New Zealand should move to improve mine safety by reinstating check inspectors and a fully funded mine inspectorate, West Coast based Green Party MP Kevin Hague said today.

Prime Minister John Key has promised that there will be changes to mining regulations, but no specific time frame has been set for when these changes will occur.

“The Government should not wait for the Royal Commission on Pike River before improving the safety of those working underground,” said Mr Hague.

“The safety of those working in the mining industry was severely compromised by the National Government’s reforms in the 1990s.

“In 1992 the position of check inspector – a worker with the authority to clear a mine if they considered it dangerous – was disestablished through legislative changes.

“This situation was further exacerbated by the dismantling, in 1998, of the mines inspectorate.

“After Pike River, it is time the Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson to revisit the glaring deficiencies in New Zealand’s health and safety record with regard to underground mining.

“Ms Wilkinson should re-read the 2008 Department of Labour Discussion Paper where union and worker submissions point out the importance of reinstating check inspectors.

“At present this Government is sitting on its hands hoping another mining tragedy doesn’t occur.

“Instead, the Government should take urgent action to prevent a further tragedy,” said Mr Hague.


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