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Australian mine inspectors have a “much better picture of what’s happening” than those in New Zealand, according to the former Pike River mine inspector.
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.
According to Stuff family members who lost loved ones in the tragedy were visibly upset in court, leading up to the first anniversary of the explosion on Saturday.