Red Alert

We must ask the hard questions

Posted by on November 28th, 2010

John Armstrong’s piece in yesterday’s Herald got it wrong.

He inferred that most politicians raising questions and exploring the reasons for the explosions at Pike River will be tainted with “exploiting the catastrophe for selfish political motives”.

John by writing that you do two things:

1. You perpetuate the view that politics is somehow “dirty” and “bad”. Is that what you really think?

2. You are undermining the questioner and the questions. That means it will be much harder to get to the truth. Is that really your intention?

Instead, asking the hard questions and seeking answers to them is what we would expect and what we require from our politicians. And from our media. Surely!

29 men died. Their families want answers. Their community wants answers. Politicians were elected to ask questions.

Armstrong appears to be framing the Pike River aftermath so that from the Opposition Benches only Jim Anderton has credibility in asking the hard questions about what went wrong.

I’m happy that Jim will be doing it.

But according to Armstrong, Labour can’t because we’ll be cynically exploiting the catastrophe for the wrong reasons, or showing desperation. What rubbish!

The union movement can’t because they (according to Armstrong) want payback “for the humiliation the Combined Trade Unions incurred over The Hobbit”. More rubbish!

Not sure what he thinks about the Greens asking questions.

On day one of the Pike River explosion I raised on Twitter the importance of hard questions being asked of the company responsible for Pike River Mine. I raised the issue of the Beaconsfield Mine collapse in Tasmania and the important role played by the (AWU) union in bringing health and safety issues to the fore.

And I encouraged the media to ask the tough questions. They are the ones who are placed to ask them. And not be put off by cries of insensitivity. Or inappropriateness. Let’s hope they do.

Fran O’Sullivan, also writing yesterday in the Herald,  believes that the hard questions need to be asked and the vested interests of everyone taken into account. I agree.

My vested interest is to determine why this disaster happened, make sure it doesn’t happen again and bring some accountability. It’s the truth that matters here. All questions are important, even if they are scoffed at by some.

Politicians, no matter what side of politics they are on must ask the hard questions. Otherwise, they’re not doing their jobs.

80 Responses to “We must ask the hard questions”

  1. Anasazi says:

    Reid has said it all.
    “I think we should wait for the inquiry before the armchair “geniuses” in this country start throwing around theories.”
    Once the armchair experts start their questioning, the blame game will start in earnest.

    You may wish to read that disgusting piece by Whale who blames Helen & the greens for the tragedy, still, really don’t expect anything different from him.

  2. Spud says:

    That’s pretty grim Anasazi :-( :-( :-(

  3. Mr. Infinity says:

    WO makes a fair point about over-regulation, and enviro-facism, but it was actually Matthew Hooten who laid down the dots for WO to connect. I don’t think we can blame Comarade Helen and tree huggers until the inquiry comes out.

  4. reid says:

    Reid has said it all.
    “I think we should wait for the inquiry before the armchair “geniuses” in this country start throwing around theories.”

    Where did I say anything remotely resembling that Anasazi?

    Or are you making it all up?

  5. Colonial Viper says:

    Doug said:

    11.41am: Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union general secretary Andrew Little said…

    Yeah OK now tell me where the EPMU went in to bat for the company?

    And where O’Conner said no one was to blame?

    Personally I think you imagined it.

  6. Colonial Viper says:

    WO makes a fair point about over-regulation, and enviro-facism

    Oh yeah, which “fair point” was that exactly that you are personally backing, Infinity, I’d like to know.

  7. Mr. Infinity says:

    That it’s stupid to put the welfare of a…duck…ahead of people’s jobs and building the way they originally had intended. That’s over-regulation (the entire RMA in its current form is though), a central tenant of Helen Clarke’s “government”. And that’s green politics which are ridiculous always, no exceptions.

    I don’t care if the duck’s endangered, pick it up and move it.

  8. Anasazi says:

    Sorry Reid, it was Mr. Infinity who said it.
    Still valid though.

  9. Tracey says:

    It would be an unusual take to determine that too many rules and regs caused the PRM failure, given we only have to go back 100 years to see what unregulated mines looked like and created for the miners.

    Interesting piece with Cameron on Radio NZ this morning.

    He suggests, I interpret, that hard questions need to be asked to ensure that the enquiry is kept honest, that the right people appear before it, the right evidence is produced for it to see etc etc

    He also makes the obvious point that for quite a while the actual “scene ” wont be available for examination.

    HOWEVER in the meantime the scene is not required to determine whether safety procedures in place were adequate, were followed etc etc

    Everyone knows that witnesses are best spoken to when everything is still fresh, over time perception and memory gets distorted.

    This is why the police cannot take much account of niceties when interviewing family members of a murder victim.

  10. Tracey says:

    By Cameron I mean the lawyer, not the Whale. Cameron (the lawyer) bases his comments on his experience and in particular Cave Creek.

  11. Spud says:

    Tracey, I consider you to be the harpoon of common sense 😀

    p.s. don’t forget to LOL 😀

  12. tracey says:


    😀 😀
    😀 😀 😀

  13. Spud says:

    😯 Yes! Tracey has joined us! 😀
    LOL 😀

  14. Al1ens says:

    “Where did I say anything remotely resembling that Anasazi”
    “Sorry Reid, it was Mr. Infinity who said it”

    Easy to confuse those from the loony right 😀

  15. Spud says:

    Looney is as looney does
    Over time
    Lefty has last laugh!


  16. Anasazi says:

    Welcome to the club Al1ens

  17. Sean says:

    It is the Opposition’s role to represent the concerns of the people who elected them, and to ask questions of the government on matters of importance.

    It is a Union’s role, as an association of employees, to support appropriate Health and Safety measures workers at work. Cooperating with the employers to ensure proper conditions by preference, but taking stronger measures if other avenues are not available.

    It is John Armstrong’s role to regularly turn out columns for the ‘New Zealand herald’, which include his opinion – be it right or wrong.

  18. Spud says:

    You are right Sean, this is no laughing matter 😯

    Hi Anasazi! 😀

    Love the left
    Out with the rest
    Lose and I’ll move away!


  19. jennifer says:

    Clare, check out the comments on your rating on Trans Tasman, “Author of many unpublished press statements, some of them incomprehensible.” A bit harsh, perhaps. To be honest, I find it a little sad that you took it upon yourself to ‘tweet’ some “hard questions” on the day of the tragedy, in my view proving Armstrong’s point. Meanwhile, Damien and Rick quietly got on with helping people, on the ground, face to face, behind the scenes.

  20. Colonial Viper says:

    Oh jennifer, a couple of links would be handy, so that we can see you are not making this up.

  21. Al1ens says:

    “Welcome to the club Al1ens”

    No worries. I’m happy to help point out when the tory lunatic fringe slip up.
    Though I can’t always be on here as much as they are :)

  22. BLiP says:

    Here’s a hard question: why, when New Zealand needed to see its leaders in action asking the tough questions and getting on with things did Parliament decide to take the day off? How’s that showing solidarity for the workers?

  23. SPC says:

    Given that Greens opposed coal mining, coal use and coal export, it’s nonsense to blame for any of this.

    FFS over 1000 tonnes of methane was to be released in the mining operation – it’s a Greenhouse gas.

  24. Waterboy says:

    whaleoil has an agenda vs labour for some reason.
    whichever govt removed the independant mines inspectorate are the ones that will realy cop the flak.

    i have no idea who it was other than it was the late 90’s, but the bs about personal responsibility being the b all and end all, is rubbish in some industrys

  25. Spud says:

    Waterboy it’s laughing day! 😀

    Lying in wait
    Our whale preys on NZ
    Lynching people with his paws!


  26. bbfloyd says:

    waterboy…. it was the national govt that did away with inspectors. the last govt was making moves to reinstate them, but were voted out before it could happen..

  27. Waterboy says:

    I should have guessed that,

    Its stil not time to point fingers, we have to get through thursday and get this fire out.

    the damn mine just doesnt want to let go

  28. Spud says:

    Agreed, waterboy, hang in there dude.