19 May 2013

Minister rejects health and safety accusation

9:02 pm on 19 May 2013

The Minister of Labour is rejecting accusations that the Government's commitment to improving workplace health and safety is hollow.

The Labour Party says no extra money has been allocated in the Budget, and with a new stand-alone health and safety agency planned, more funding will be needed.

The minister Simon Bridges says an increase of $37 million over four years was announced last year, and he's confident the new agency can be set up within the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's existing budget.

He says any additional funding wouldn't come through a Budget process, but through a levy on industry.

Meanwhile, the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union says it believes the Government will somehow find the money needed to repair a serious breakdown in the country's health and safety system.

The Labour Party has criticised the Government for not allocating extra money to implement the recommendations of the Pike River Mine Commission of Inquiry or the Health and Safety Taskforce.

But the union's assistant national secretary, Ged O'Connell, says it has no reason to believe the Government will not follow the recommendations for Pike River.

Pike River Coal was found guilty of fundamental health and safety breaches, which led to the deaths of 29 workers who were killed in the mine in 2010.