Thursday, August 18, 2011

The sin of cheapness

So, the government has bowed to the inevitable, and announced that it is doubling the number of mine inspectors, from two to four. Good. This isn't all of what is required, but its a start, which will hopefully prevent something like Pike River from ever happening again.

Meanwhile, the announcement has exposed the extraordinary cheapness which cost those men their lives. The new High Hazards Unit will cost a mere $1.5 million a year for eight inspectors (four for mines, four for petroleum). $1.5 million a year. And for the sake of saving that $1.5 million a year, we had an inadequate inspection system which allowed the deaths of 29 people.

This is the sin of cheapness, with fatal consequences. And we need to ask: where else is the government committing it, being cheap, cutting costs to keep taxes on the rich low, at the risk of people's lives? Efficient government is one thing, but one lesson we should be taking away from this accident is that it has been allowed to go far too far - and people have died as a result.