Pike River Mine Disaster: Royal Commission
Written by ACM   
Monday, 29 November 2010

After previously indicating a preference for a Commission of Inquiry, the New Zealand Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. John Key has now announced that he will seek to establish a Royal Commission into the Pike River Mine disaster. The TV report below is from New Zealand TV3 through Scoop News.  Click here to see the report.


He said that calling this highest level of inquiry will assure the miners that the authorities are determined to establish the truth. Mr. key would have been advised that a Royal Commission will enjoy the confidence of those most involved and will demonatrate the seriousness with which the government approaches the issue.

The Royal Commission will be headed by a judge and have the power to compel witnesses to testify.

...Royal Commissions...


Royal Commissioners are considered to be non-political and independent, and this is reinforced by their appointment by the Crown acting on advice.  This flows from the widespread understanding among the public  that the Crown provides leadership above politics. 

Accordingly most republican models try to establish an office with similar standing.  This is invariably unsuccessful.

As the doyen of constitutional lawyers, the late Professor PH Lane, once argued, republicans would be better advised to draft a new constitution rather than trying to graft a politicans' republic onto our constitutional monarchy.

Public confidence in Royal Commissions is assisted by the fact  that the findings of a Royal Commission do not reflect well on the government which decided to appoint it.

Royal Commissions are called to look into matters of great importance. They are usually chaired by a judge, former judge, Queen's Counsel or a senior lawyer.  ( As part of creeping republicanism, QC's  were to be replaced by Senior Counsel. The New Zealand government has restored the rank of Queen's Counsel.)

...serious questions...

Mr. Key said  there are serious questions that need to be answered vowing the inquiry will leave no stone unturned to find the cause of the blast.

This will be the first Royal Commission to investigate a disaster since the Royal Commission into the Air New Zealand crash in 1979 when a sightseeing flight to Antarctica crashed into Mount Erebus killing 257 people.