NZ Labor Conservation Speaks on Rena Disaster: What Not To Do

By MarEx 2011-10-20 11:49:35

A Government hell-bent on cutting costs has left Maritime New Zealand without the frontline expertise it needs to function in emergencies, says Labour’s Conservation and State Services spokesperson Ruth Dyson.

“National’s Transport Minister Steven Joyce has tried to brush off criticism that the Government reacted too slowly due to a lack of onsite specialists, three of whom were lost to Australia last year,” Ruth Dyson said.

His argument was that specialists rotated in and out to assist in neighbouring disasters.

“Of course, the international community responds in times of crisis, but they don't usually end up in command of domestic operations,” Ruth Dyson said.

“This is simply another excuse, a weak attempt to conceal what all New Zealanders recognise as an accelerated brain drain to Australia, under National.

“The situation Maritime New Zealand faced when the Rena was grounded provides stark evidence as to why a responsible government doesn’t run down the public sector to give huge tax cuts to the top 10 per cent of earners.

“National’s response resembles a handbook of ‘what not to do’.

“Furthermore, it has been revealed Maritime New Zealand was also operating without an on-site naval architect. Maritime New Zealand admitted this in their own answers to questioning where they state; ‘The salvors’ specialist naval architect arrived on Friday--- almost three days after the ship was stranded—and began work immediately’.

“Is this why there was a delay in removing oil from the Rena? Maritime New Zealand says they were concerned that the ship might be destabilised without salvage expertise to do the calculations. Had this naval architect survived National’s budget cuts the response would have undoubtedly been quicker.

“In a farewell note to departing staff members Maritime New Zealand paid tribute to their outstanding contribution to New Zealand’s preparedness and response system, and to marine environment protection.

“This contribution has been undermined by National’s state sector cuts with positions left vacant as the organisation struggles to retain the right people with the right skills.

“This financial strain has unfortunately had a negative flow-on effect for the response effort in Tauranga,” Ruth Dyson said.


Source: Scoop Independent News