As Winston Peters heads into the Pike River mine there's bound to be a canary in his pocket. If it karks then he'll scarper for the surface, only trouble is Bill English may already have sealed the exit, removing a potential headache at the next election.
But seriously, the wily old campaigner stole the thunder as his hapless political opponents scrapped over what was the right thing to do for the grieving families of the 29 miners who perished there six years ago.
Some of them were at Parliament yesterday along with their tireless spokesman Bernie Monk who lost a son in the mine. They insist it's now safe to re-enter the mine and brought with them a report to prove it. The opposition politicians turned out showing solidarity with them with Labour's Andrew Little saying an independent safety expert should be brought in to decide for once and for all whether the mine can be entered.
But it was Peters who struck a chord, no doubt buoyed on by the chants of "Winston for Prime Minister," he made the offer of being the first one to go into the mine, also convinced it was safe after reading the reports.
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Afterwards the 71-year-old veteran politician insisted he was deadly serious. And what's more he's had experience, he says, working underground, forging the Island Benn tunnel in Australia's Snowy Mountains in the late 60s and early 70s.
As tempting as it might have been to take Peters up on his offer, Bill English instead accused him of trivialising it, saying he can't be taken seriously. The new PM said it's not a politician's job to override safety and put people's lives at risk.
English described it as the most dangerous work place in New Zealand and going into it would go against the very health and safety laws passed as a result of the disaster. Whatever any independent expert says, English maintains, anyone responsible for sending someone into the mine is legally responsible for their life.
But consider the families' argument. The mine's a crime scene with forensic evidence and it's not right to leave men dead at their workplace. Sealing the mine, they say, is putting a lid on their coffin.
So why not let Peters be responsible for himself, take him at his word, and let him be the canary?