Guest Post by Flipper on Pike River

November 24th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by commenter “Flipper:

“It is interesting that the media are ignoring the real implications of  the death dance by Cunliffe and his union cronies.

I suppose their ignorance is in part explained (or increased) by the fact that the New Zealand Herald has taken unto itself the right to be the standard bearer for Cunliffe on this issue.   It has done so to the point where two experienced columnists – Armstrong and O’Sullivan – have rallied to support their Editor (Currie) and his love affair with Cunliffe.  The stance adopted by both Armstrong and O’Sullivan recently, and again today,  is disappointing because it is yet another example of NZ Herald news manipulation.   This planned approach, covering all APNZ publications, was exposed by Whaleoil in his now famous “Hit job” report.   One sees the Herald’s support of Cunliffe’ s  crass exploitation of already hugely compensated  tragedy families from  Pike Mine as “pay- back” for a Government that “escaped” their planned assassination conspiracy on retirement homes.

But there is another, wider, issue that some folk have observed: the proclivity of the media, especially including Fairfax, TVs One and 3, and the Herald, to chase down blind alleys.   In the past year there have been numerous “expose” stories that were going, they said, to bring the Key Government down.  These have ranged from Dotcom, to GCSB, to Dunne, to Vance, to Fonterra, to Nova pay, to Hekia Parata, to the Christchurch schools, to Len Brown’s loopy rail plans, to a non-existent manufacturing crisis and a non- existent regional crisis, to Tiwai Smelter, to Graeme Wheeler’s LVRs – and even to Roast Busters and more. All were promoted and portrayed as “killer” blows.     Is Pike River another “blind alley”?

As November  2013 draws to a close it is clear that they were largely media promoted events that had very little impact on middle New Zealand – a New Zealand starting to enjoy the fruits of three/four years of pump grinding while Europe is still in a mess.   The polls do not support the garbage promoted by Armstrong, Currie, O’Sullivan, Gower, Watkins, Small, Vance, Wood, et al. They live in an esoteric world totally divorced from the reality in which real New Zealand lives and, now, prospers.     Good economic news of the kind that almost all of Europe would welcome is ignored.  It does not fit the frame (up) that the media wants to promote. Pity.

And that brings me back to Pike River.   Armstrong, Currie, and O’Sullivan are extremely foolish to persist in their pro Cunliffe stance.    Court awarded reparations are a bottomless pit – a hole in the ground – into which the taxpayer would be required to pour endless millions.  The Government designs roads. Faulty design causes accidents that kill drivers.  The CTV building collapses.  Who is responsible?  By the Armstrong/Currie/ O’Sullivan line, the taxpayers should pick up the tab for Pike River corporate fines because, in O’Sullivan’s words, and after receiving millions in compensation and aid, with many, many millions still to come, the Cunliffe promise of $3.4 million is just “a drop in the bucket”.   Your pontification O’Sullivan, is beneath any serious reporter.   But are you a reporter?  Or are you now an advocacy journalist, like Mazda Campbell?   It is time that Fran, John, and Shayne, sat down and re-thought their roles.

Pike River has been handled by the Government with care and dignity. The response on our behalf has been measured, but fair, and appropriately humane.   Could some things have been done better (think Policeman Knowles)?  Yep.      The Pike River death dance orchestrated by Cunliffe, with the support of some media, is a sign of  Cunliffe’ s desperation, his “war footing” cry having slipped to the very edge of the abyss.   Give it up.

My thoughts on Pike River is that if Cunliffe seriously thinks the Government should pay, than why not have the parties that were in Government pay, rather than us poor innocent taxpayers. Regulatory problems happened under both Labour and National Governments. It is easy for Cunliffe to declare that taxpayers should pay, but why should we pay for mistakes made by the Government he was part of.

So why doesn’t Cunliffe pledge $1.5 million to be paid to Pike River families from the Labour parliamentary budget, and call on National to do the same. Would that not be fairer that asking for taxpayers to pay?

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40 Responses to “Guest Post by Flipper on Pike River”

  1. Liam Hehir (125 comments) says:

    Except that money (the Parliamentary budget) is appropriated from taxpayers for a specific purpose – not to be a slush fund.

    Some – not me actually – say that this is all politics by Labour. Perhaps then the party could pay it from its campaign budget for next year.

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  2. Mobile Michael (451 comments) says:

    We had a treasurer who stole $3000 from an organisation and was ordered to repay the money by the sentencing judge. Still waiting over a decade later. Will Cunliffe support this being stumped up by taxpayers? I can trot out the disabled people that the organisation supports for good TV pictures.

    The only reason Cunliffe can say these things is because it’s not his money he’s giving away.

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  3. JC (956 comments) says:

    When you read all of Sullivan’s piece it becomes obvious that she thinks Cunliffe has won a “political” victory over Key and only barely covers the fact that there’s nearly a million dollars per victim either paid out or will be in the future.. plus the normal support services of the various Govt agencies.
    Then there’s the tens of millions paid by both Govt and NZOG on the mine itself that’s been pumped into the region… that is in fact a vital component in supporting the Coast, its mining, miners and support industries for now and going ito the future.

    The Govt has more than done its bit.. and this is not a game that smart alec politicians and media should be playing.

    JC

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  4. Simon (724 comments) says:

    There has been a change generally in MSM to support Labour. (aside from the usual leftwing MSM) When Key got in the government departments continued to spend large in advertising with MSM. Key got a lot of fair press.

    Suspect that finally Natioanl has started to rein in govt department spending which has included a drop off in ad spend in MSM. With a drop off in govt ad spend MSM has switched to Labour and support for Cunnlife. Time for a change in govt.

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  5. jakejakejake (134 comments) says:

    We should have done the same to Hubbard investors. Spit in their mouth and have a nice day.

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  6. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Please can anybody confirm that the approx. figure paid to the Miner’s families at Pike River is $27,000,000.

    Additional to this the Government’s (taxpayers) $7,500,000 odd to go back to the rockfall of the mine ?

    I and many other gave a serious donation, at the time, and am still unsure where it went, and how much overall is available ?

    I hope that somebody can tell me how much and where it went as there appears to be confusion from Monks that there are miners families on the breadline.

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  7. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    If the idea does gain some traction, perhaps John Key could ‘counter’ this by offering a referendum on this. The ‘compensation’ would be funded by a temporary 1% increase in tax. It would be put into effect if it gained a simple majority, AND at least 33% of those on the electoral roll supported it.

    The political trick here is figuring out where most of the noise is coming from, and it it is from those hardly likely to vote National, then no issue.

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  8. Simon (724 comments) says:

    Also would also add that Natioanl & Labour are so close policy wise MSM to sell newspapers has to create false stories to generate some interest. NZ is a one party state.

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  9. jakejakejake (134 comments) says:

    Almost $1mil drought assistance payments to bludging farmers this year. Obviously miners are second class citizens.

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  10. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    Flipper, well said.

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  11. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    Simon – “one party state”

    Not true. It may have been true only a few years ago. But now you have Labour led by a man who is behoven to the unions (and others?) for his position, taking a hard left policy tack, who will be in coalition with an even harder left group of zealots who have no experience of the real world.

    With existng promises of NZ Power and Kiwi Assure (wtf) and higher taxes and compliance costs already on the board, what else will they come up with if they get to government.

    The latest debacle around Cunliffes effective dismissal of ACC as the mechanism to support people following accidents and his promise to do a Don Corleone on innocent shareholders for some sort of demand for UTU is now well beyond the pale.

    “We can do this the hard way or the easy way…” What if somebody chooses the hard way? What do you think he has in mind?

    So, no, a change in government will not be same.

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  12. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    Very good post.

    There are other journalists and editorials saying that Pike River is a special case and Government should just fork out, But special cases can be made in many circumstances.

    It would make worrying precedent if additional payments were made based on point scoring of opposition party leaders and the amount of media promotion they get.

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  13. big bruv (13,901 comments) says:

    “It would make worrying precedent if additional payments were made based on point scoring of opposition party leaders and the amount of media promotion they get.”

    Unless of course the political whore proposed paying the Pike River families then you would be in full support.

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  14. BeeJay (72 comments) says:

    It’s about bandwagons, and being on it whenever it can get you the most attention. Labour is in the shit, struggling to come up with anything constructive so adopt the usual ploy of just knocking everything and everyone, hoping like hell that they might get an audience. These media twats also want to climb on by “rallying to support their editor”! For fucks sake that would have to be the biggest arse lick ever. And just brings to mind what they quickly forget, when they make the decision to join the bandwagon tour, that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time!

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  15. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    bb bull, I haven’t seen any parties comment on this other than Labour and National. I support the National position for reasons they and Flipper and DPF have stated, and I think Cunliffe is pandering populist posturing – and opposing for the sake of pissy point scoring. In that respect you’re no better than Cunliffe.

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  16. jakejakejake (134 comments) says:

    Peter Dunne is performing a Yeah, nah on Pike River by remaining silent.

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  17. KevOB (267 comments) says:

    Cunliffe and his accolytes ignorance of law and equity show both he and they are unfit to be in any government or to advise on one.

    When is cunliffe going to announce his campaign a for President for Life?

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  18. Nostalgia-NZ (5,211 comments) says:

    Good work flipper. You may have relied too much upon the ‘inclination’ of the Herald to support Cunliffe and its propensity to chase down blind alleys as you put it to be convincing on the Pike River position by Cunliffe. I think he’s playing at the ‘middle.’ Those ‘offended’ about the situation of the disaster and compo will be encouraged, I doubt that it is a game changer across the electorate however. It’s Cunliffe’s territory to roam, he ‘wins’ to some degree because he has raised it I would say largely for the interests of the broader Labour party.

    If any momentum were to be made JK could set up an inquiry to look into how adequately ACC covers in situations where there may have been human error by Government local and National agencies, to include perhaps (wisely) the CTV building collapse with a view that they are the most tragic in recent history and a place to start for that reason. That would shorten the hand of Cunliffe considerably. There is an echo here of a situation which has in many ways has escaped consciousness of the public, that is the decision of the Justice Department to pay out Susan Couch. So the fears expressed about precedent are not entirely accurate because as the case of Susan Couch shows a litigant of a case with considerable merit can succeed despite the current legislation ‘prevention.’ I think it’s a good area for the Law Makers to be looking into, or alternatively The Courts if some ‘class’ action was brought on behalf of the families of the miners.

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  19. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  20. flipper (4,067 comments) says:

    N-NZ….
    Tks.
    The whole situation is complicated by ACC. The exemplary damages provision is so narrow, and the route so convoluted, that your inquiry suggestion is excellent.

    If it comes down to State or State agency negligence, where to draw the line?
    I can think of a raft of serious criminal cases, and state agency negligence, that might or might not be covered…but I don’t think that is a matter for discussion now.

    The other aspect is public charity. The Pike miners fund was substantial, but I have not seen details of any schedule of payments.

    The ChCh fund was/is huge, and still receiving monies (Cameron :-) ).

    What will happen to spontaneous charity if the Government is required/blackmailed into paying extra compensation because of a media or vested interest campaign ????

    Not easy! Cheers, N.

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  21. Kimbo (934 comments) says:

    “Turning the deaths of these men into political football.

    Fuck-off back to hell.”

    My thoughts on Cunliffe in this matter, Samuel Smith.

    Kindly take him with you, when you go…

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  22. Nostalgia-NZ (5,211 comments) says:

    ‘What will happen to spontaneous charity if the Government is required/blackmailed into paying extra compensation because of a media or vested interest campaign ????’

    Don’t think it will ever happen, nor should it flipper. But a constructive look as how the laws and compensation should apply in these situations would be timely and not prevented from having a retrospective scope for past situations that reach a particular thresh hold. JK would be precisely the man to acknowledge a situation such as this as needing to be looked into, even on the basis that it (such tragedies) are very rare events on the calendar. From my distant perspective there is still some matters to be ‘healed’ re CTV and Pike River. John Key may regret his statement, during a high pressure and emotional time, about recovering the bodies for example. However, there was no blueprint for this then or now – that is the realistic situation more clearly understood by most now I think and it must eventually come back to the Law Makers. ACC can never have been intended to ‘protect’ Government failure through it’s agencies or to indemnify them in an unfair way against the interests of its citizens. Aspects of ACC are too restrictive and others are used to cover events that possibly were never thoughtfully envisaged, that’s life and that’s also progress. In principle nobody should be denied access to the Courts, particularly for situations of loss through Government negligence, hardship etc possibly never imagined by Parliament in passing a Law.

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  23. Nostalgia-NZ (5,211 comments) says:

    Should just acknowledge, the considerable pay outs already said to have been made to the Pike River has to be viewed as a big hurdle to Cunliffe’s aspirations here, but as I wrote earlier – I think he’s just pitching at the middle.

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  24. flipper (4,067 comments) says:

    Good points N-NZ.

    They have given me a few ideas that need chasing.

    And on absolving the State from responsibility, sans exemplary damages…. the case of the fellow savaged on his own driveway by an uncontrolled police dog (last Sunday) springs immediately to mind.
    But that illustrates how big the can is, and how many worms are waiting for escape.

    Ta

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  25. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (890 comments) says:

    My spies inside Labour camp tell me that the Pike River death dance performed by the shameless Cunliffe has increased their poll rating considerably. So job done. Move on…..

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  26. Rowan (2,392 comments) says:

    Well put Flipper, this is an absolute tragedy for all those involved, at the end of the day whose responsible, and what should happen? Very difficult questions for govt to decide, good points also raised by N-NZ.

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  27. flipper (4,067 comments) says:

    N-NZ and Rowan…..

    In putting that post together, I had in mind a few other relevant matters, but excluded them because I wanted to limit the size.

    1. The ACC that has emerged circa 2013 bears only passing resemblance to Woodhouse and Gair.

    2. The whole ACC scene changed when Norman Kirk extended it to non work place accidents, and even included accidents due to personal negligence. Is Cunliffe planning a similar extension?

    3. There have been frequent suggestions that ACC should be extended to cover sickness. Crazy!

    4. Responsibility for Pike River might eventually be seen to include the requirement to drill; through a couple of miles of diamond hard rock, instead of taking a shorter route,

    5. Now remind me about those snails, EDS / Forest & Bird wankers, Greenpeace corporates, and the Labour Ministers who approved and then promoted Pike River’s plan.

    A real, can of worms awaits us. :-)

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  28. Bad__Cat (140 comments) says:

    Socialists, buying votes with our money.

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  29. smttc (752 comments) says:

    Yeah SCS, trying to win votes by offering taxpayer money to Bernie Monk’s whingers is a real game changer.

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  30. Steve (North Shore) (4,563 comments) says:

    I smacked my thumb with a hammer the other day. It is the Governments fault and they should pay me megabucks.
    It’s not my fault I was rushing and made a mistake. Fucking bang – ouch. ACC? fuck them, not worth the hassle of the paperwork and investigation.
    How much money will I get?

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  31. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    Excellent post flipper.

    Key should ask why the plight of the 125 families of those killed in the CTV building is any less deserving of the government stepping in to cover the likely civil liability of the builders, council inspection staff and the building’s owners giving it a green sticker after 4 September and December 26 – all parties unlikely to be able to pay out to needy plaintiffs. Dozens are killed in industrial accidents some due to employer negligence where a civil award is likely to be ignored by a voluntary liquidation. How long is a piece of string? Cunliffe’s desperation to get any perceived hit on Key is palpable. This ‘end of the road’ for National will go the way of all the other ‘game changers’ the MSM have trotted out. I’m surprised at Fran O’Sullivan – she’s normally a more sober and balanced analyst of the political scene. Carry water for the Labour Party is normally beneath her.

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  32. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    There are other journalists and editorials saying that Pike River is a special case and Government should just fork out, But special cases can be made in many circumstances.

    Quite right, Pete. Like Susan Couch, who was paid $300k by Corrections. Or the Cave Creek victims, who received $2.6 million. I’m surprised you’ve forgotten about these special cases.

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  33. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    There are of course quite a few other “special cases” who have been compensated, including:

    AA Thomas ~ $1 million
    David Dougherty ~ $868,000
    Aaron Farmer ~ $352,000
    Halatau Naitoko ~ $225,000
    Tania Vini ~ $176,600
    Lucy Akatere ~ $162,800
    McCushla Fuataha ~ $165,330
    Keith and Margaret Berryman ~ $150,000

    Then of course there’s the $30 million paid to Vietman vets who were poisoned with Agent Orange. The government wasn’t obligated to pay compensation but clearly it was considered the right thing to do. It’s curious that this government is so out of touch that they don’t understand what “moral obligation” means.

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  34. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    To be fair to flipper, he has given us a great Tui ad:

    Pike River has been handled by the Government with care and dignity.

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  35. MH (757 comments) says:

    Cunliffe reels in another trout out of Pike River. This High Hazards Unit has possibly trebled the inspectorate,just in time to see more mines closed as China takes stock and ETS kicks in.

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  36. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    Ross69
    The cases you cite are ones where the government (via a department or an agency) was liable or culpable in the loss and so they were the rightful party making the compensation. In the case of Pike River a private company was culpable not the government and Cunliffe is demanding the government make good the civil remedy awarded by the court against the company. If every tort (legal wrong) by private companies causing wrongful death became the responsibility of the government it would open the taxpayers to hundreds of millions in compensation. Cunliffe is seeking to make this a special case for purely partisan political purposes – were it about equity and fairness he would need to be promoting a policy of some new government indemnity scheme. The problem is we have one with ACC – when it was brought in, NZers gave up the right to sue for damages in the case of accident.

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  37. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    The cases you cite are ones where the government (via a department or an agency) was liable or culpable in the loss and so they were the rightful party making the compensation.

    Certainly, in those cases the government was morally liable. Importantly, the government of the day recognised their moral duty to act. But to say that the government isn’t culpable in Pike River is incorrect. An independent investigation found there were systemic failures by at least two government agencies. It found that the Department of Labour’s performance as a health and safety regulator was “dysfunctional and ineffectual…[t]he performance of the former departments was not acceptable. These are serious lessons for the public service and other regulators and enforcement agencies.” Presumably Kate Wilkinson was aware things were amiss at the DOL which is why she resigned as Minister.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1304/S00115/pike-river-independent-investigation-report-released.htm

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  38. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    I should add that talking about ACC is irrelevant in this case. Workers are required to pay levies in order to be covered by the scheme. If a worker has an accident, they ought to be compensated because they have contributed. But any ACC payout is distinct from employer culpability when a worker dies. Indeed, employers have been given substantial fines.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1310/S01155/forestry-death-leads-to-fines-for-contractor.htm

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  39. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    I should add that talking about ACC is irrelevant in this case. Workers are required to pay levies in order to be covered by the scheme.

    Nonsense. Workers are required to pay, but everyone is covered whether they pay or not, or whether the accident is work related or not.

    The reason this is all about ACC, is that we have chosen a system where someone who negligently causes the death of someone else is not liable to pay anything to the victim’s family. Quite rightly, that seems grossly unfair to people in cases like this. But we also cannot have a system where victims’ families may be able to double-dip depending on how much sympathy they can generate in the media. The unfairness can only be corrected by having a fault-based system.

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  40. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    we have chosen a system where someone who negligently causes the death of someone else is not liable to pay anything to the victim’s family.

    That’s incorrect. Bad employers don’t get a free pass because of ACC. I suggest you take a look at the link where a forestry worker was killed.

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