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Peters misleading Pike River families: PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/01/2017
Winston Peters © Fiona Goodall/Getty Images Winston Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is misleading Pike River families by telling them the decision not to re-enter the mine is political, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Mr Peters met with families of the 29 men who were killed in the 2010 mining disaster in a public meeting in Greymouth on Sunday.

The families want the drift at the entrance of the West Coast mine to be entered in the hope of retrieving bodies or evidence about the disaster, but government-owned miner Solid Energy says it's unsafe and is permanently sealing the mine.

In December Mr Peters, who was a miner in Australia, met with families outside Parliament and volunteered to be one of the first to enter.

Mr Peters says the families have internationally respected advice declaring the drift is safe to enter, contrary to Solid Energy reports which indicate methane at deadly levels.

Mr English maintains the decision not to re-enter the drift is one of safety and must comply with laws that were strengthened in the wake of the Pike River disaster.

"Any decision to go in there has to comply with that law. Mr Peters is misleading the families if he's telling them it's a political decision," he said from London.

"If he's willing to become a director of a company and take legal responsibility then I'd take him a bit more seriously."

Mr Peters has vowed to make re-entry of the mine non-negotiable in any coalition deal his party makes during this year's election.

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