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The Government’s refusal to hold a thorough, independent inquiry into the grounding of the Rena is irresponsible given the important lessons that could be learned, Labour’s Environment spokesperson and Deputy Leader, Grant Robertson said today.
“The release of the first book on the Rena disaster today, highlights again the need to fully understand what happened when the Rena grounded and how our response could be improved if a similar grounding occurred.
“The fact that the government will not hold an independent inquiry into all aspects of the response is irresponsible and shows reckless disregard for the health of our coastal environment,” Grant Robertson said.
“One of the issues that the book raises is what more could have been done in the five days of calm weather immediately after the grounding. Many New Zealanders were distressed that nothing appeared to happen during this period. There are claims and counter-claims on this issue, which is exactly why an independent inquiry is needed.
“The government has refused to hold an inquiry. It is also dragging its feet on getting on with passing legislation to implement the international conventions that would at least allow taxpayers to recoup more of the costs if such a disaster were to happen again.
“This should be a matter of high priority for the government,” Grant Robertson said.
“Many New Zealanders I speak to are deeply distressed about the impact of the Rena spill on our coastlines. We want to do everything we can to avoid a repeat of the disaster. They also want to know that we are doing all that we can to learn the lessons so that if it does happen we can respond as effectively as possible.
“This will only happen with a thorough independent inquiry into all aspects of the grounding and the response to it. It needs to be independent to give confidence to the public that all the facts will be on the table.
“I call on the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Transport to set that inquiry in motion immediately,” Grant Robertson said.