John Key's Challenge | The Jackal

14 Oct 2011

John Key's Challenge

On Wednesday 12th October, John Key challenged all of the people who think the Government's response to the Rena disaster was too slow to put up or shut up.

Unfortunately there are many documented instances where the response to the Rena disaster was mismanaged, inadequate and could have been undertaken a lot better by John Key's government.

In stark contrast to the brevity of the situation, criticism of National's handling of the disaster has been met with nonchalance and a carefully orchestrated script. It apparently took a long time to write before the first paragraph was even read out at Tauranga by John Key on the 9th of October, four days after the Rena first struck Astrolabe Reef.

National's spin-doctors would have realized as soon as the Rena grounded that it was a PR nightmare. They went into overdrive to try and protect their brand from being sullied with +350 tonnes of heavy oil that started to leak from the Rena on that fateful and sad day, Wednesday 5th October.

John Key's PR recovery team is desperately trying to manipulate people into believing National has no responsibility for what has occurred. Last Wednesday, John Key appeared on TV3's Campbell Live:
"Show me how you'd go faster? Show me how you would, you would do anything different? You'd mobilise the best people in the world, work out exactly what the structural damage was, how to get the oil off the ship, which barge to put it in ... and you'd actively work your way through this. That's exactly what's happened in the first four days."
So in light of John Key's challenge, here is one particular instance to the huge mess that has been National's handling of the Rena disaster.

On the 7th October, people started to wonder why a vessel that could pump oil off the grounded Rena, had not arrived at the scene of the disaster yet. Many raised concerns about the extensive delay and the impending storm. Four days of good weather were lost because authorities failed to act quickly enough. The promises of National MP's that New Zealand could respond to an oil spill properly were completely broken.

It was then reported that a tanker ship called the Awanuia had been sent to pump the 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the stricken Rena. When criticism increased on the 8th of October, an excuse was made that the Awanuia had to first discharge its load of fuel at Marsdon Point. Scoop reported:
The Awanuia departed Auckland on Friday afternoon and has proceeded to Marsden Point to discharge her current load and create room for the fuel from the Rena. She will depart Marsden Point at 1 pm today and is expected to arrive at the Rena on Sunday morning.

The image above shows the Awanuia's GPS tracking as reported by this website. It appears that the Awanuia did not go anywhere near Marsdon Point Refinery to unload. Below is a close up of where the tanker stopped.

It's obvious that the preparation for such a foreseeable incident has been woefully lacking in New Zealand and that National and Maritime New Zealand had no plan to deal with the disaster. The authorities total lack of any proper procedures delayed the emergency response and recovery to disastrous effect. The fault for that delay is National's, and it will cost this country dearly.

National's deregulation of the shipping industry and a total lack of governmental foresight means that New Zealander's are going to pay the vast majority of the financial burden for the Rena disaster. Despite the tireless effort of many thousands of good people throughout New Zealand, it's likely that the Bay of Plenty's wildlife may never recover from National's failures.