The stricken Rena is now losing containers overboard as well as leaking massive amounts of oil. Environmental, ecological and tourism disaster is now a navigational hazard threatening to close down the entire port of Tauranga. How could it have got to this stage?
If only the response from Maritime NZ was nearly a fraction as good as the comprehensive online response from that department. Although they still persist with lies:
The conditions since Rena ran aground have been quite rough so the response team has been unable to deploy containment booms.
Now that is a straight out lie and everyone in the Bay and everyone watching TV coverage of the weather for the 72 hours after the event knows it. This casts doubt on the truthfulness of the statements made by the department. As this picture clearly shows:
Maritime New Zealand’s Marine Pollution Response Service (MPRS). This was the unit whose spokesperson was interviewed on Tauranga wharf on Thursday saying they would be "training" inshore for a few days before they go out to deal with it! He never mentioned weather as a factor. He didn't want to put anyone in danger... and consequently to hell with the environment. What are they doing all the other days of the year when there is no spill to combat? They choose to do training at the time when actual duty was needed. Who would give such an order!? My immediate reaction on hearing this was whoever is in charge should have fired him on the spot. But he was down the chain and just following orders, it is the people at the top who are responsible for these poor decisions. Even though they knew the weather forecasts were that it would turn bad and that at that point nothing could be done they persisted with a plan to do nothing.
I've posted on female managerial caution at the expense of action before - in particular:
COCK-UP No.1: Dr Lisa Ferguson/Leaky homes
COST: $52m to date
INCOMPETENCE: Nov.2002 to resignation July 2005 only resolved 344 out of 3,300 claims whilst staff partied and owners fumed.
COCK-UP No.2: Dr Ruth Frampton/Painted Apple Moth
COST: $50m to date, $50m over next 2 years
INCOMPETENCE: May 1999 to resignation in May 2002 let moth spread from 1kmsq that would have cost a few million to half of Western Auckland costing $100m and aerial spraying tens of thousands of people.
That post was from 2007. Since then the Immigration Service's woeful under-performance and inaction was later revealed to be in part due to the under-qualified "Doctor" Mary Anne Thompson being appointed by her mate, Helen Clark.
And so when we turn in this instance to the top tier of operational responsibility and who makes the calls and who leads we find...
The director of Maritime New Zealand is...
Catherine, a chartered accountant, became Director in December 2006.
Catherine Taylor - an accountant, a female accountant.
My contention, based on these examples, is this:
Woman - especially academics - are focused on process, study, monitoring and reports rather than focused on action and results. They prefer the safe environment of planning and preparation rather than take the risk - as they see it - of taking action ahead of getting every i dotted and t crossed to cover their arse. They would rather devote their time to preparing training exercises than go out in the field and doing something. They display little urgency and scant comprehension of what the task is. The bureaucratic environment of the government encourages and supports them in this wait-and-see/do-nothing management style - as they are able to avoid scrutiny and accountability as a faceless bureaucrat while the Minister takes the heat. In conclusion: they are unsuited to positions where immediate operational action must be undertaken beacuse - as females - they are inherently risk-averse, and as academics/desk-jockeys they are out of their depth in real-life situations.
A big call, but one I'm prepared to make based on recent NZ disasters that got out of hand and had a tardy response that made the situation much worse. Not that any of this lets the blokes off the hook.
As for the overall response in this unfolding Rena catastrophy it is still the government and the PM in particular who has the ultimate responsibility. As a male with little academic inclination - by my own reasoning - John Key has no excuse. That 'she'll be right' slackness is a male trait, to be sure - so we have a 'perfect storm' of gender weaknesses converging with this disaster.
The government's line is to keep the private interests (the shipping line, the insurers and the salvor) in the gun by refusing to take control themselves because at that stage the government would be wholly legally responsible and the public would start blaming them. Well the government - by refusing to take control and act - are already in the gun, being blamed and are responsible. It seems little use charging the captain for the initial mistake when the greater mistake is the government not taking the consequences seriously.
John Key and his National government are the ones who should be charged with negligence - and hiding behind bureaucratic pettycoats and insurance contracts won't cut it either. John Key is responsible for every drop of that oil and the people of Tauranga should never let him forget it.