The Government has released its detailed action plan for implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and acting Labour Minister Christopher Finlayson announced today.
Following the release of the Royal Commission’s report on 30 October 2012, Cabinet agreed that a group of Ministers – Mr Joyce, Mr Finlayson and Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley – oversee the implementation of the Government’s response to the Commission’s recommendations.
“We are working to put into effect as soon as practically possible the 16 recommendations of the Royal Commission aimed at addressing systemic failures in the health and safety regulatory regime,” Mr Joyce says.
“We owe it to the families of the victims of Pike River to ensure we follow through promptly on every recommendation the Royal Commission has made.”
The implementation plan sets out in detail the action that has already been taken to carry out each of the 16 recommendations of the Royal Commission, as well as setting out the remaining steps.
“Different aspects of the report will take more or less time to bring into effect,” Mr Finlayson says. “This implementation plan demonstrates we are taking the action needed to ensure we meet our goal of having all recommendations in place by the end of 2013.”
The Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety has been given responsibility for advising Government on several other key recommendations by the Commission, including the best structure and form of a new independent regulator for workplace health and safety.
“The next milestone will be our decision early next year on the form of the new independent regulator,” Mr Finlayson says. “The Taskforce will advise the Government on other key Royal Commission recommendations by 30 April 2013 when it is scheduled to report back on New Zealand’s entire workplace health and safety system.”
The Government has appointed an Expert Reference Group on mining safety and regulation to provide advice and independent scrutiny to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in developing a more effective regulatory framework for all mining in New Zealand. A new framework will be consulted on mid-2013.
“The new regulatory framework will cover all mining in New Zealand – not just underground mining as recommended by the Royal Commission,” Mr Finlayson says. “The changes will also address the recommendations for worker participation in mining health and safety management, more detailed health and safety management responsibilities for company directors and statutory mine managers, management training and emergency management planning.”
The Expert Reference Group comprises mining health and safety experts Professor Michael Quinlan of the University of New South Wales; Gavin Taylor, Chief Inspector of Coal Mines, Queensland; Professor Richard Johnstone of Griffith University, Brisbane; Blenheim mining consultant Dave Stewart; Christchurch mining consultant Tony King; Andrew Dallas from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in Brisbane, and emergency management expert to be nominated by Police. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Deputy Chief Executive (Labour and Commercial Environment) Gaye Searancke is convenor of the Group.
The Group’s functions are to:
Certain recommendations have already been given effect to. A supplementary order paper to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill has been submitted to Parliament to ensure that health and safety requirements must be met before the regulator will allow mining to begin.
The responses to all the Royal Commission’s recommendations are detailed in the Implementation Plan, along with the Terms of Reference of the Expert Reference Group here.