I listened to John Key's weak and petty comments on the Rena disaster the other day and noted some facts:
1. He choose to go to Maketu for a media conference - the furtherest place impacted so that there would be the least amount of local criticism and evidence of oil while still being able to claim he had been to the site of the spill.
2. The embarassing nodding and pantomime facial expressions in the background during the interview from the local young flunky MP, Simon Bridges, made both of them look like fools.
3. The PM's comments that Phil Goff was cynical in participating in a photo op' on the beach doesn't change the fact that Phil Goff with his bucket and spade in half an hour was making more of a response than John Key has made in a week of dithering, excuses and buck-passing.
4. The PM has not encountered bad press and hostility like this before in his term and his reaction was alarmingly similar to Helen Clark - focus on the initial fault of someone else and get angry about it as if that were the only issue and if that doesn't work get angry about those who criticise the PM. It's a game of deflection and it doesn't wash because it doesn't answer the questions the public have a right to know. [UPDATE 4:30pm: Just heard on RNZ that he's been to Papamoa to a public meeting and said he's "as angry about it as they are"! Classic Helen Clark deflection line that one - doesn't let him off the hook at all, doesn't answer the question why he didn't respond quickly or with any effect.]
The only way to win this PR meltdown for the National government was to have done something, or at least be seen to be doing something now. Setting up the nation's biggest call centre and saying it is a crisis response doesn't wash, neither does a volunteer army who are no substitute for the actual army and navy who have been relatively inactive.
While the Rena survived the last two days of heavy weather - albeit incurring a large crack in the middle - the possibility that sea conditions will become unfavourable before any substantial amount of oil is pumped out is a real one. The Rena is at risk of breaking up. The public's relationship with the PM is also at risk of breaking up - and the Nat's seem more concerned about that than the oil.
Stuff: Clean-up teams are being prepared in Whakatane for oil washing up there from the stricken ship Rena.
More than 350 tonnes of oil has spilled into the ocean since the 47,000-tonne cargo ship grounded on the Astrolabe Reef off the Tauranga coast on October 5.
More than 1350 tonnes remains on board, with only 10 tonnes being removed by salvors since the grounding.
Maritime NZ (MNZ) director Catherine Taylor said less oil had come ashore overnight "though we do know it is moving eastwards and there are reports of it moving beyond Maketu for the first time."
There had been reports of oil on Whale Island but this had not been confirmed.
The next stop after Whakatane is here - where I am. And I will be holding John Key responsible for every drop that I find on the local beaches of the Eastern Bay have no doubt. The people here will be angry, they will be motivated to respond and they will be organised. The Nats are going to take a hit in every general seat in the Bay.
The local Maori Trust Board have started the first lines of their mussel farm a few kilometres out from the coast. The water column is one of the best for growing shellfish in the country and initial results are promising. If that is affected by the Rena spill then it links Iwi all the way around the Bay to Whanau-a-Apanui - who have protested the Petrobras exploration survey earlier in the year - in vehement opposition to anything to do with oil drilling.
It is apparent to everyone except the MPs of the National Party that the government has no response capability to even a minor spill and that granting drilling permits in the deep sea would be an invitation to a catastrophe no one would be able to control and that would ruin the sustainable food supply provided by the ocean - for decades, possibly for generations. Only the highest order of greed-mongering whores would be venal, myopic and reckless enough to do that... and they are called the NZ National Party. They are willing to play Russian roulette with everything truly valuable about this place just to give themselves a bloody tax cut - why would anyone vote for that?