Labour says it is "pathetic" that Labour Minister Simon
Bridges will not commit to attending an industry led-review of
safety in the forestry industry.
Mr Bridges' office was asked several times last week whether
he would attend the review after William Bryant, 53, was
killed by a falling log on a private forestry block in the
Wairau Valley on Thursday.
The review, to be held this year, was launched by industry
organisations and unions after Mr Bridges ruled out a
A spokeswoman for Mr Bridges said the health and safety
regulator, WorkSafe NZ, would provided secretariat support
and contribute to the industry-led inquiry.
But she would not confirm the minister's attendance, saying:
"The minister has not considered the matter."
When pressed, she said Mr Bridges "has not received any
information about the inquiry to consider".
Further requests for confirmation went unanswered.
Labour forestry spokesman Shane Jones said the response was
"What we've got is a juvenile politician trying to act like
an adult, and he's playing an infant's game called pass the
parcel," he said.
"I would have thought that there's considerable upside for
the minister to show genuine concern, but also demonstrate to
the families and to the broader community that he's willing
to be a part of this initiative."
Labour's labour spokesman Andrew Little said the industry's
shocking death rate was a matter of record and Mr Bridges
should turn up to the review.
Failing to do so would be a "dereliction of duty on his part
"I don't think there's any question about taking more time to
consider it - the discussion about the industry-led review
has been around for some months," he said.
"This is a matter that the minister ought to be across. There
shouldn't be anything particularly political in it, but it is
a matter of responsibility for him, and leadership, and he
should be part of it."
Both Labour MPs have said they would turn up to the review.
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly, who has been
involved in discussions about the review, said appointments
to the review panel were yet to be announced.
It would be up to the panel to decide the review process and
who they wanted to attend. Ms Kelly did not want to comment
on Mr Bridge's attendance before those details were
Mr Bridges last week said the Government's enforcement
approach would help lead to change in the industry, but the
forestry industry also had to play its part and make changes
to keep its workers safe.
"The Government does not support a Government-led inquiry
into the forestry sector as we believe the collaborative work
underway will help make sustainable change."
Last year, 10 people died in forestry accidents.