Five days before the third anniversary of the Pike River Mine tragedy, legislation to prevent a similar disaster has passed its third reading in Parliament.
However, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor says that despite that, there is still only one more mining inspector than on the day of the mine explosion on November 19, 2010.
The Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill completed its journey through Parliament yesterday.
Labour Minister Simon Bridges said it was the last major milestone to address the 16 recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry.
The bill creates the Work Safe New Zealand Act, the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act and a new Mines Rescue Act. The new stand-alone workplace health and safety regulator, Work Safe New Zealand, will be operating from December 16.
It also paves the way for new mining health and safety regulations, and an expanded and better supported Mines Rescue Service.
"The mining sector's commitment and support for the Pike implementation programme will ensure we leave a lasting legacy for the Pike River 29 and their families through these new laws and the work of the new regulator," Mr Bridges said.
Mr O'Connor told Parliament: "I have to acknowledge that this is a good piece of legislation, but it is not perfect.
"I hope that the minister can rightfully claim that he has done his part to make the necessary changes in health and safety in mining, but he knows full well that actually the resources to ensure that that occurs have not been put in place. The fact that we had two mine inspectors when the Pike River Mine blew up and we now have three, with one head inspector, does give an indication that there is still much to be done in this area and resources to be put in place."
Green Party list MP Kevin Hague said the creation of Work Safe was the right thing to do, but the Government "still steps back from a genuine commitment to tripartite regulation of health and safety".
"That board of Work Safe will still be accountable to the minister and not to workers or to employers. That is wrong. In my view, the functions of the organisation are still inadequate."
National Party list MP Chris Auchinvole said the purpose of the bill would be approved by anyone involved in the tragedy.
"I honestly feel that what we are creating here is more than an enduring memorial."
- The Greymouth Star