Australian mining safety standards for NZ nixed

A bill designed to implement Australia’s level of underground mining safety regulations in New Zealand has been quashed.

The New Zealand parliament narrowly rejected the Bill by one vote, at 61 to 60, according to New Zealand’s 3 News.

The bill was presented following the Pike River tragedy, which took the lives of 29 miners, in 2010.

Following investigations into the disaster, one of the Pike River mine inspectors called for Australian mine standards to be implemented to increase safety in the country’s mining industry.

Kevin Poynter, the main Pike River inspector before the November 19 tragedy, told a New Zealand court Australian mine standards were higher and its inspectors were better supported.

Poynter, who now inspects mines in Queensland, said QLD mines were examined on a monthly basis and inspectors were supported by a “myriad” of experts.

Giving evidence at the third phase of the royal commission hearing, Poynter said he conducted only seven underground inspections at Pike River in two years.

He said his last inspection was only 17 days before the fatal explosion, and the mine deputy Peter O’Neill, killed in the blast, told him “things were OK” at the mine.

Poynter said in 2009 and 2010 he had raised concerns that there were only two mine inspectors in New Zealand.

He also said he had lacked power to make appropriate safety enforcements in his first year on the job because he was still receiving training.

The safety bill was opposed by the collation of the NZ National and the ACT and United Future parties, while all other parties supported it.

No reason was given for its rejection.

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