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Pike River mine will be re-entered: Peters

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/05/2017

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Winston Peters has pledged that the Pike River mine will be re-entered if his NZ First Party is part of the next government.

He made the promise on Newshub's AM Show on Tuesday, saying he believes the drift, or mine entry shaft, is safe.

Nearly all the opinion polls show NZ First will hold the balance of power in parliament after the September election.

Mr Peters isn't accepting assurances from the police and the government that there hasn't been a cover-up over the video footage of two men working on a robot in the drift, taken a few months after the 2010 explosion.

"It's a huge cover-up and they're not going to get away with it," he said.

Prime Minister Bill English wouldn't be drawn on whether he would be prepared to negotiate re-entry with Mr Peters after the election.

"We're not doing coalition negotiations five months out from an election," he told reporters.

Mr English said Mr Peters was playing politics with the feelings of the families of the victims, and would need a law change if the government was to authorise re-entry.

"He would need to say what that law change is, and whether it would authorise him to take responsibility."

Mr Peters has previously said he would be prepared to be the first man into the mine.

Reminded of that, Mr English said: "I don't think if you wanted to seriously achieve something you would send Mr Peters in first.''

Relatives of the 29 men who lost their lives in the 2010 explosion believe the video is clear evidence that the drift is safe, and say they've never seen it before.

Mr English said on Monday the men working on the robot were at the drift entrance, only a few metres in.

The police and state-owned Solid Energy, the mine's owner, strongly deny a cover-up and say the mine isn't safe for re-entry.

They're working on a plan for modern robots to examine the mine.

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