The Nats are clearly at panic stations over the public backlash on their handling of the Rena.
Last week, Nick Smith was calling this our “worst maritime environmental disaster”. Now, National pollster David Farrar and National shiteater Cameron Slater are trying to minimise the Rena disaster by comparing the number of dead animals to those killed by other means (Slater also gets in some racism. Nice).
As one emailer put it: “it’s like saying the Christchurch earthquake was no big deal because more people die of cancer”.
These birds didn’t die naturally. They didn’t die for an economic purpose. They didn’t die in a natural disaster. They died needlessly because New Zealand lacks the capability to properly contain even a relatively small oil spill.
Dead birds is hardly the only effect of the Rena. If the ship does break apart on Astrolabe reef, it could poison that valuable fishing ground for years and kill tourism. Already, the cost of the clean-up is in the millions, not counting the further hit to New Zealand’s reputation as a clean, green tourism destination.
Meanwhile, Key visits oiled birds and says they’re the price of economic ‘progress’. The article is the classic damning ‘straight report’:
Prime Minister John Key was given a “watered down” tour at the National Oiled Wildlife Centre this morning, after staff decided he wouldn’t want to get oily..
…While Key said he believed the saddest images were of the dead wildlife, he didn’t personally visit the autopsy room or see any oiled animals yet to be cleaned.
Phil Goff lent a hand when he went to see the oil and the locals asked him to help out. Key won’t even see the dead birds, let alone help out. He was much more comfortable looking at the live ones:
“They’re sweet,” Key said of the little blue penguins, happily swimming in their pool.
“We know over 1200 birds have lost their lives, we need to try and minimise that as much as we can. The great work that’s happening here is certainly saving a lot of lives.”
Has this environmental and economy disaster made Key reassess his silly “balance our economy opportunities with our environmental responsibilities” line? Not a bit of it:
Answering queries about offshore drilling, Key said it was a “balancing act” between business and the environment.
“We need to protect the environment as much as we can but not to the point where we do absolutely nothing.
“This is a tragedy that’s occurred [through] no fault of any New Zealander – this is a boat that’s run aground and accidents do happen, whether they’re on land or on sea or in the air,”
Yeah. Accidents do happen. Sometime containment valves blow off oil wells kilometres below the sea’s surface and it takes months to close it up. National says that the damage that could be done by such a disaster is worth pushing ahead with deepsea oil, even though we have piss-poor capability to handle oil spills.
If Key has his way, some day a whole lot more little blue penguins may be washing ashore covered in oil and Key will be alright with that because it’s a “balancing act” and the environment sometimes has to pay the price so foreign companies can make huge profits digging up our oil.