like the rest of the country, i've been watching events in tauranga with a sinking heart and a lot of sadness - especially for the birds, fish & other animals that are getting caught up in a growing environmental disaster. that the government has been much too slow to act is a given - they should have been doing much more much earlier, and i can't understand what exactly they were thinking last thursday and friday.
but the thing that really touched a raw nerve with me today was hearing nick smith say that he was going to use the full powers of the resource management act to take action against the shipping company. that would be the same resource management act that national promised to gut. that would be the same law that was decried as "bureacracy" and "red tape", leading to reduced productivity and hampering economic growth and general prosperity?
that would be the same resource management act that a waikato group placed detailed ads against, for weeks on end prior to the last election? the bane of farmers, property developers and the like? this is the same act that was "streamlined" by the government in september 2009.
so to hear this particular minister calling on the RMA just sounds like the deepest, basest hypocricsy. having said that, i hope the shipping company is required to reimburse the nz government for the cost of the clean up, as well as having to pay punitive damages. and i expect that the relevant crew members will also be held personally accountable. but let's not forget, we also have to hold this government to account for failing to act quickly and decisively.
the other point that is absolutely clear: failing to invest in decent public services means that the systems weren't in place to deal effectively with disaster early on. when you cut back that thing you call a "bloated bureacracy", you end up with a lack of capacity at the times it really counts. but somehow these people never seem to learn.