The family of St Andrews miner Malcolm Campbell say they remain hopeful of bringing his body home from New Zealand, despite the outcome of the country’s election.
Parents Malcolm Snr and Jane had been promised by the opposition Labour Party that if it won the election, efforts would be made to retrieve the 29 bodies, including that of their son, all of whom perished in the Pike River Mine disaster in 2010.
The bodies remain underground because it was always deemed unsafe go back.
Prime Minister Bill English’s Nationalist Party clung to power and remain the largest force in government but failed to secure an outright majority, leaving a slim chance that Labour could still govern if they can join forces with the Greens and Firsts.
“It’s hugely disappointing that Labour failed to oust the government, but we must remain strong and believe that a coalition can be formed to topple the Nationalists,” Mr Campbell Snr told the Citizen.
“The plight of the families is now recognised throughout the country and we firmly believe that, despite the election result, the authorities will finally be force to act sooner rather than later.”
With the ruling Nationalists having 58 seats and the Labour / Green alliance having 52, all eyes are now on Winston Peters, First Party leader, who effectively holds the balance of power with his party’s nine seats.
“We are hoping Mr Peters throws his lot in with Labour and the Greens allowing them to form a new government,” said Mr Campbell Snr.
“Everything we are being told by those in New Zealand is that he is more likely to side with Labour, so we have fingers crossed.”
However, Mr Campbell Snr added that whatever move Winston Peters makes when he decides on October 7, where to place his party’s support, the belief is that whoever is in power will have to act soon enough.
“The government has always hid behind the current mine owners and the issues over the health and safety failings.
“But with the owners Solid Energy having now gone bust and in liquidation, control and responsibility for Pike River mine will revert back to the state come March 2018 anyway.
“With public opinion in New Zealand now firmly in favour of a recovery mission, and the technology and expert opinion overwhelmingly confident that an unmanned probe is feasible and can be successful in locating the bodies, the government will no longer be able to dodge the issue.
“We’ve battled to bring Malcolm home for seven years now, an election result isn’t going to stop that.”