ON AIR: Overnight Talk

12AM - 5AM

Barry Soper: Are the public being short-changed by Pike River media ban?

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 21 May 2019, 6:30AM
Today, they'll be hoping that - after eight and a-half years - the mine will finally be entered. But the media won't be on hand to record the event.
Today, they'll be hoping that - after eight and a-half years - the mine will finally be entered. But the media won't be on hand to record the event.

COMMENT:

It's a difficult one this.

Ever since the dreadful explosion at Pike River, leaving 29 miners dead, the media has covered every aspect of the story, right from the early days when there was hope that some of the miners may have survived, through to the Royal Commission and then to this Government's decision to spend $36 million to send a team into the mine in the hope of bringing some closure to families.

Earlier this month the Prime Minister was on hand, talking to families, and so was the minister in charge of the effort, Andrew Little.

Winston Peters - who has unsuccessfully, repeatedly offered to be with the first team into the mine - was never going to be allowed to make the trek in. As it was no one went in during the first scheduled return - an unacceptable level of oxygen was detected and when mixed with methane it's lethal. It was disappointing to all those who'd gathered.

Today, they'll be hoping that - after eight and a-half years - the mine will finally be entered.

But the media won't be on hand to record the event.

If something goes wrong, we'll be last to know. There will be a camera there, under the guidance of the Pike River Recovery Agency, which will be very much in control.

Jacinda Ardern says that's appropriate because today's effort should be a more intimate affair for the families. They didn't want an open event. Ardern believes the public will understand they want to have their time when the official breach of the concrete is made.

It's difficult because this is a significant event of public interest, an event heavily funded by the taxpayer, so should the media be banned from recording what we've all waited almost nine years for?

We've all been kept fairly much in the dark on this until Ardern, the self-proclaimed champion of the most transparent Government in this country's history, confirmed today's re-entry and the private nature of it at her regular post Cabinet press conference.

In fairness to Ardern, apparently it wasn't the Government's decision, it was the families'.

It's difficult because the only wrong step made by the media in all of this time was when some Australian yobbo questioned the credentials of the cop handling the explosion's immediate aftermath.

So are the media, and more particularly the public, being short-changed?

As frustrating as it might be, the miners' families' wishes have to be respected and we can only hope that nothing goes wrong today.

ON AIR: Overnight Talk

12AM - 5AM