Labour Minister resigns over Pike
Mon, 05 Nov 2012 4:09p.m.
By Kim Choe
By Kim Choe with NZN
Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson has resigned from her portfolio following the release of the Royal Commission’s damning report into the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy.
In a statement, Ms Wilkinson said she felt it was the “right and honourable thing to do”.
“The Pike River Mine tragedy of 19 November 2010 happened on my watch as Minister of Labour,” she said.
“While reports from the former Department of Labour did not advise me of concerns about their ability to administer the health and safety legislation, 29 men lost their lives in this tragedy.”
Prime Minister John Key has accepted Ms Wilkinson’s resignation, but says “successive governments” were to blame for eroding the influence and reach of mines inspectors.
The National government of 1992 disestablished check inspectors in mines and relaxed other rules, which Labour and the Greens have repeatedly criticised since the Pike River disaster.
While the 1992 law change placed primary responsibility for health and safety on employers, the Department of Labour saw that as "somehow reducing its responsibility to actively administer the legislation," says Mr Key.
"The Royal Commission found the Department of Labour itself did not have the focus, capacity or strategies to ensure Pike was meeting its legal responsibilities under health and safety laws," says Mr Key.
Chris Finlayson has been appointed Acting Labour Minister in Ms Wilkinson’s place.
Mr Finlayson has welcomed the public release of the Royal Commission report, and says the Government broadly accepts all 16 of the report’s recommendations.
“I believe it is our duty to the 29 miners who died and their families to oversee the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations,” Mr Finlayson says.
“Officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have been instructed to undertake the work in the labour area and provide advice to Cabinet.”
Ms Wilkinson retains her conservation, food safety, and associate immigration portfolios.
3 News / NZN
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6/11/2012 7:18:53 a.m.
So, she gets to keep all her pay & perks, while having less responsibility and less work to do. Resigning the portfolio while remaining a Member of Cabinet and keeping her other portfolios is nothing more than token political game-playing - hardly punishment.
When is Social Development Minister Paula Bennett going to tender her resignation for the repeated stuff-ups under her watch?
When is Education Minister Hekia Parata going to tender her resignation for the repeated stuff-ups under her watch?
5/11/2012 9:58:42 p.m.
@CG I think you are right. This is not a resignation its a political reshuffle of cabinet ministers and quite a slap in the face to all involved. This govt needs to accept and act on the 16 recommendations with haste. Honour these fallen men by following the commissions findings.
5/11/2012 5:57:14 p.m.
I dont agree Mike. All jobs have degrees of risk should we all stay at home and stop doing our jobs? People have more chance of an accident driving to work than being injured in a underground coal mine.
5/11/2012 5:21:49 p.m.
Daniel Lang wrote:
I don't understand why she would resign, apart from trying to portray herself and National as honourable.
5/11/2012 5:16:44 p.m.
Ha, ha!...Hers is a clayton's 'resignation' as she STILL remains a cabinet minister with all the other portfolios she had before! I think this is just a political propaganda stunt engineered by their spin doctors!
5/11/2012 4:47:08 p.m.
The resignation does nothing.The report also fails to point out that even if all its recomendations were implemented, a sudden release of methane of similar levels to Pike River would still kill miners today, so nothing has really changed. Mining is a dangerous occupation and can't be made risk free except by stopping all mining.
5/11/2012 4:30:21 p.m.
We're well overdue for a few more resignations.
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