The Alliance Party says that it is clear that the grounding of the Rena is a disaster that didn’t need to happen, and is the result of deregulation of the maritime industry.
Alliance Party maritime spokesperson Trevor Hanson says he has long predicted an incident like this since “ships of shame” had been allowed to operate freely on the New Zealand coast.
Mr Hanson has many decades of experience in the maritime industry, and is the former General Secretary of the Waterfront Workers Union and the Maritime Union of New Zealand.
He says the issue of substandard “flag of convenience” shipping had been swept under the carpet for many years.
“There have been plenty of other incidents, and plenty of warnings from those in the industry.”
“Now our beaches have been desecrated, the lives of the crew put at risk and the health and wellbeing of the community jeopardized because our politicians have put short term profit first.”
The seaworthiness of ships and the pay and working conditions of the crew have been sidelined and downplayed by complicit Governments, a weak bureaucracy, and grasping and irresponsible owners, says Mr Hanson.
The Alliance is backing calls from the Maritime Union to focus on the systemic causes of the disaster rather than trying to scapegoat individuals.
Mr Hanson says this catastrophe clearly shows stronger regulations are needed so ships sailing in our waters do not pose a safety risk to the workers, the community or the environment.
“If such regulations had been in place the a ship like the Rena, in its current state, would not have been allowed anywhere near New Zealand.”
“Our politicians don’t need to get out on the beaches with their buckets and spades to show us how much they care for the cameras. I wish they had shown so much interest when maritime workers tried to get them to see where their policies of deregulation would lead.”
“The politicians need to very quickly come to grips with how this disaster occurred. They need to admit that their policies have led to the disaster and they need to start drafting the regulations that will prevent such catastrophes in the future.”
He says the Alliance is committed to cabotage (priority to New Zealand owned and crewed ships on New Zealand coastal shipping), the establishment of a New Zealand shipping line, and strong maritime regulations to protect the community, environment and workers.