John Armstrong writes:
In its most damning criticism, the Commission says Wilkinson’s department should have prohibited Pike from operating the mine until its health and safety systems were adequate.
Given the mine opened in November 2008 – just a month before Wilkinson became Minister of Labour – there would have been demands for her resignation as her department’s woeful performance happened on her watch.
Certainly the mine did operate during her watch, and she has resigned. But the interesting thing is that Armstrong has reported that the Department of Labour should never ever have allowed Pike River to start operating.
The Minister, when it did start operating, was Trevor Mallard – not Kate Wilkinson.
Now I say this not do do a blame game. I don’t think either Mallard or Wilkinson are to blame. And I think David Shearer’s statement that Labour accepts responsibility for their period in Government was the right thing to do, as was the PM’s apology for the failings of the current Government for the lack of oversight. But it is an important fact that the report finds the mine should never have been allowed to open.
Where this goes now is in two directions.
The first is the Government’s formal response to the recommendations.
The second is the prosecutions of Pike River Coal and certain former managers. The findings of the Royal Commission are incredibly damning with regard to them.