On Day 23 of the Rena Disaster, Skipper Key sailed into Tauranga last week to view the ship on the rocks. There were no “Mission Accomplished” banners though, because with hundreds of tonnes of oil and 1300 containers, some with poisonous chemicals, still on board there is still a great risk to the livelihoods of the people of the Bay of Plenty, birds and marine life in and around this reef that was once teaming with life.
John Key was asked about the total cost of the clean-up and gave one of his usual less than confident answers: “It’s a big number. $70 million, $80 million or $100 million maybe”. Of course, as usual, he failed provide was an answer to the hard question: Who is going to pay for the costs of this disaster?
John Key and Steven Joyce were adamant in the early days that the owners were liable for all costs but that all changed when reality caught up to the spin. That hasn’t stopped Mr Joyce from spinning some more. Yesterday he reminded us that the owner’s insurers have said they will meet their liability. But that is no assurance at all, because the owner’s liability is limited by law and as a result the taxpayer will have to pick up the a big chunk of the tab.
This was not just an accident. It looks as if the grounding was an act of negligence and that fault was involved. Someone other than the taxpayer should be liable for the consequences. (more…)