Throughout the ordeal endured by
Todd Russell and Brant Webb and the heroic effort by the rescue team at
Beaconsfield, gold mine manager Matthew Gill has remained resolutely
focussed on the rescue mission. Up until today, when asked about mine
safety, he has deflected all difficult questions – including Richard
Carleton’s just before his collapse and death – saying his priority was
on getting the two miners out alive.

Right behind him at regular
media briefings was Mike Lester from CPR Communications & Public
Relations in Hobart, a former chief political reporter for The Mercury,
and ABC Radio, and a senior media adviser to the late Tasmanian Labor
Premier Jim Bacon. Gill hired a good operator and it has been Lester
who helped him to keep the media in the loop while keeping the focus on
the marathon rescue.

Matthew Denholm in The Australian
today reports that some miners say the disaster could have been
prevented if a basic safety measure to stablise tunnels – the
retention of key, unmined levels – had been followed, that miners were
angry because mine management had not left “crown pillars” at levels
below 800m because of the value of the ore, and there was only one
small pillar in the tunnels where the rock fall occurred that killed
Larry Knight and trapped his mates.

Peter Fray

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