NZ First say they can reveal that in late January, the Prime Minister received a proposal from Victoria University to re-enter Pike River mine using its robotic HADES underground mine disaster scout.
"Unmanned entry could easily have taken place by now, except this government does not want the public to learn the truth about what’s in there," says New Zealand First Leader and Northland Member of Parliament for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters.
"On 26 January, the Dean of Engineering at Victoria University, Professor Dale Carnegie, actually wrote to the Prime Minister offering its HADES explosion resistant mine disaster scout. A robot specifically developed for Pike River but all he got back was silence.
"Also, in one of those ironies you occasionally get in politics, money from fraud-hit Fuji Xerox helped to develop the HADES robot.
"What we now know is that the Prime Minister and Minister Nick Smith not only knew of this robot’s existence in January, but Ministers Gerry Brownlee, Michael Woodhouse and Paul Goldsmith too.
"This puts the cover-up at the highest level of this government. It also means Mr English knew about HADES existence weeks before he met with Pike River families.
"Reading the letters and emails you get a sense of Professor Carnegie’s growing exasperation over National’s cold shoulder. Especially when National was at that point moving to seal off the mine permanently.
"HADES is equipped with sensors, high definition infrared cameras and endurance to get inside Pike River and back again. It is a solution that could have been in and out by now.
"And the existence of Victoria University’s HADES robot was withheld from the Select Committee considering Dame Fiona Kidman’s re-entry petition. That Committee seriously deserved to know what Victoria University had to offer and what Ministers knew.
"Successive experts and video footage has disproved that Pike River is a Charnel House. Now, with the existence of Victoria University’s purpose-built robot being quashed, we’re in no doubt National is complicit in a cover-up," Mr Peters said.