5 Nov 2011

Goff criticises National's handling of Rena disaster

5:17 pm on 5 November 2011

Labour Party leader Phil Goff has again questioned the response of the National-led Government to the stranding of a container ship off Tauranga.

The Rena has been stuck on Astrolabe Reef since 5 October and has spilled hundreds of tonnes of oil and container debris, polluting Bay of Plenty beaches.

Mr Goff visited Tauranga on Saturday morning to get an update on the condition of the ship and helped with the clean-up of Papamoa Beach.

He questioned why some of the oil was not pumped from the vessel in the first five days of the disaster while the Rena's systems were still working and the heavy fuel still hot.

Mr Goff said the Government was "chasing cameras elsewhere and had its eye off the ball".

"I was Minister of Foreign Affairs when we had the tsunami on Boxing Day (in 2006). I dropped everything at that point, I focused 24 hours around the clock on what needed to be done, showing leadership working with Foreign Affairs to deal with that crisis.

"I would've expected the same from this Government."

Mr Goff said he never thought he'd be wearing a chemical suit on a New Zealand beach and picked up several kilos of oily waste on Saturday.