What do you reckon, have the Bernie Monk/Pike River protesters gone a little bit too far?
The great problem with all this is that it’s driven by tragedy and grief and, as we have said a number of times before, if you haven’t been through it personally, how can any of us really know what it’s like?
Making it even more complicated is the fact that what they’re doing appears perfectly legal. The latest development of the farmer gifting the road to the protesters seems perfectly legal and driven by genuine sympathy, and it’s his road to gift and the protesters to accept.
If they want to put up a gate to block truck access who are we to argue?
You can also bring in Solid Energy and ask why on Earth they didn’t secure the access road for their purposes and have some sort of binding agreement.
If that was the only road, what on Earth were they going to do if anything, far less a protest, happened to it?
How can you run a business if the entry to said business hangs in the balance and at the behest of the owner who is a separate entity from that business?
Now back to Bernie Monk, and here’s what worries me.
Bernie’s language is getting increasingly aggressive.
They’re doing to the Government and owners, he says, what they’ve been doing to us.
That sounds sort of tit for tat to me. That sounds needlessly full of aggro.
Yes, it will have been born out of frustration and I am sure there are many who share that frustration. But here I think is the critical bit of all of this.
Bernie keeps saying: “All they want is to be listened to.” Which I am afraid to say, technically isn’t true. Why?
Because they have been listened to, they have been listened to for six years. They have had meeting after meeting, they have protested and complained and petitioned.
You can’t possibly argue they haven’t been listened to.
What Bernie is really saying, if he were blunt and honest, is “we want it our way, we want you to change your mind and do what we want”, which is different to being listened to.
And in that is the stalemate.
The Government have listened, and they have reports, and they disagree with the protesters. It’s that simple.
They have not set out to make this any more difficult than it already is, but as the owner of the mine they have the ultimate responsibility, and safety comes first.
And as much as you might want it to be different, putting up gates and blocking roads doesn’t change that.
There is a sad irony that the Pike deaths came about due to a lack of attention to health and safety. And now some of the families of the dead are demanding that health and safety concerns be ignored, and more people be put at risk of dying. The very organisation that got set up as a result of Pike River has ruled the mine should be sealed as it is too great a risk. Solid Energy are obliged under law to do this.