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English rejects Peters' Pike River plan

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/05/2017

Bill English © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Bill English Expert advice it is not safe to re-enter the Pike River coal mine cannot be ignored simply to play politics and keep Winston Peters happy, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Twenty-nine men lost their lives in a 2010 explosion in the mine and their bodies have not been recovered.

New Zealand First leader Mr Peters believes parliament should pass a bill to ensure no-one is held criminally responsible if something went wrong during a re-entry into the West Coast mine's drift, or 2.3km-long entry shaft.

However, directors from mine owner, Solid Energy says evidence shows it is too risky to go into the potentially explosive methane-filled drift.

Mr English on Monday told Newshub Mr Peters was irresponsible to fan hopes among families of the dead miners that re-entry is safe and possible.

"We are certainly not planning on changing the law in order to satisfy Winston Peters," he said.

"He is misleading the families into believing ... that somehow a bunch of politicians are the right people to make this kind of decision."

Mr English said someone would always be held legally responsible for any re-entry into the mine and changing a law in parliament did not change how dangerous recovering the miners' bodies would be.

Mr Peters has called claims the re-entry is dangerous a cover-up and says he would personally go into the mine to help retrieve the bodies.

"I'm prepared to go in myself - not as a boast as some in the media say, but as an indication of my confidence safe re-entry is possible," he told The Nation on Saturday.

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