Pike River: English, Smith haven't met experts who say it's unsafe

Both the Prime Minister and the minister in charge of Pike River Mine haven't met with any experts who say it's unsafe for a manned re-entry into the mine's access tunnel.

Bill English and Nick Smith have only met with the board and management of the mine's owner Solid Energy, which has the legal responsibility for any recovery attempt.

"It is not my job to sit down and query the wide range of technical coal mining and other experts as to their decision," says Dr Smith.

He couldn't name the experts who say it's unsafe, nor could he say how many had said so.

"Solid Energy employed a whole series of experts. There was a very wide range that are quoted in that 800-page technical report," he says.

Mr English couldn't recall whether experts were present at a meeting he had with Solid Energy.

"I couldn't tell you exactly who was at the meeting," he says. "I can't recall whether part of that discussion was with expert advisers but I've seen the expert advice."

Dr Smith defends his decision not to meet the experts, saying it would be a "sad deterioration" if politicians were involved in safety decisions.  

"It is not my decision as to whether it is safe to go down the mine or not," he says.

"I have accepted the advice of who is legally responsible and they [Solid Energy] have said it cannot be done safely."

Video taken from inside the mine just months after the explosion showed workers with breathing apparatus working with a robot.

The footage, released to Newshub, re-started a debate about whether re-entry was safe.