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Political Leaders Must Back Corporate Manslaughter Law - Pike Families

Pike River family members Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse have called on political leaders to agree to introduce a corporate manslaughter law following charges for Whakaari deaths being dropped.

Anna Osborne, who lost her husband Milton in the Pike River disaster, says the system of accountability for deaths and injuries caused by corporations is broken. “We’ve watched charges collapsing because of poor investigations and bad prosecutions of the Whakaari disaster and been heartbroken by how little has changed since Peter Whittall was allowed to walk away from the deaths of our men.

“The status quo just doesn’t cut it, we need a law that criminalises actions of corporations that led to death and we need the police to be the investigators. We need a criminal corporate manslaughter law.

“There have been hundreds of avoidable workplace deaths and deaths from corporate misadventure since the Pike River mine exploded 13 years ago. But alongside that there’s been bugger all accountability.

“Now with the failures of the Whakaari prosecutions it’s clear things just haven’t changed.”

Sonya Rockhouse, whose son Ben was killed at Pike and whose other son, Daniel, barely escaped with his life, says leaders need to make good on their promises. “Over the years we have talked about this with Prime Ministers, Ministers, party spokespeople and an almost endless number of others who have had the power to help make this change.

“And most of them have agreed with us. So why has this not been done yet? Are we waiting for hundreds more people to die? It’s a disgrace and it is and should be a huge source of national shame.

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“It shouldn’t be hard to do. We’ve worked this matter through with King's Counsel Nigel Hampton, and he supports the change and says it can be done in law. Why the hell are we waiting? Political leaders need to answer this question.”

In 2022 Osborne and Rockhouse were made Members of the Order of New Zealand for their fight for truth and justice for Pike River Families. In 2023 they were recognised with the Safeguard Lifetime Achievement Award for their advocacy work for New Zealanders’ health and safety and for their work with the Public Services Commission to create a Public Service Standard for the treatment of survivors of tragedy - Te Mahi me ngā Mōrehu - Working With Survivors.

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