Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (Minister for Building and Construction) on behalf of the
Minister of Transport: I move,
That the Marine Legislation Bill be now read a first time. I nominate the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee to consider the bill.
The purpose of this bill is to promote maritime safety and marine environment protection. The bill amends the Maritime Transport Act 1994—an Act that I am very familiar with—to enable New Zealand to accede to three international maritime conventions, to improve the clarity, completeness, and effectiveness or enforceability of certain provisions in the Act, and to transfer the local regulation of navigation safety from the Local Government Act 1974 to the Maritime Transport Act 1994.
The bill also transfers the regulation of waste dumping and discharges from ships and offshore installations involved in seabed activities in the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf from Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental Protection Authority. This change is achieved through amendments to the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environment Effects) Act 2012.
The bill will amend the Maritime Transport Act 1994. The Act provides a regulatory framework for the maritime transport sector. It seeks to promote safety in maritime transport, protect the marine environment, and implement New Zealand’s obligations under international maritime conventions. In June 2008 the Cabinet economic development committee agreed to amend the Act, and those changes are reflected in the bill. Cabinet also agreed to transfer the provisions of the Local Government Act 1974 relating to navigation to the Maritime Transport Act 1994, with consequential changes as required. Cabinet decided in October 2011 to transfer certain environmental protection functions from Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental Protection Authority.
The main issues and the benefits of this are, first of all, the international maritime conventions. The bill enables New Zealand to accede to three international conventions to protect New Zealand’s maritime interests. The grounding of the
on Astrolabe Reef has highlighted the need to update New Zealand’s liability limitation regime for maritime claims. The bill will enable New Zealand to accede to the 1996 protocol to amend the international Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims
1976. This will more than double the current liability limit. The limit will increase by a further 51 percent in 2015 when new limits under the protocol will come into force.
The bill also enables New Zealand to ratify the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001, which makes shipowners strictly liable for bunker oil spills. Claims for pollution damage from ships’ bunker oil will be treated as a separate category of claim. The increased liability limit established by the 1996 protocol will apply to such claims. This arrangement provides a more certain remedy for parties facing economic loss or clean-up costs because of bunker oil spills.
Thirdly, the bill enables New Zealand to accede to the Protocol Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Pollution by Substances other than Oil 1973. This will help protect New Zealand’s environment in the event of a shipping accident involving hazardous or noxious substances. The bill also implements amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and
Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 that establish an internationally applicable alcohol limit for merchant seafarers.
The bill establishes clear functions, duties, and powers to complement the voluntary guidelines of the New Zealand Port and Harbour Marine Safety Code 2004, and maintains the division of central and local government responsibilities. These measures provide a stronger regime for the management of port and harbour and navigation safety.
The bill also contains miscellaneous amendments to improve enforcement, modernise penalty levels, and clarify the application of the Maritime Transport Act. On recommendation of the Regulations Review Committee, the bill clarifies that the marine safety charge is a levy, not a user charge, and adds a requirement for consultation whenever regulations are being made to set or amend the levy. The bill also amends rule-making provisions in line with amendments already made to the rule-making provisions of the Civil Aviation Act 1990 and the Land Transport Act 1998.
Transfers of discharge and dumping functions from Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental Protection Authority are covered. The bill transfers regulation of waste dumping, except emergency dumping, and certain discharges within the exclusive economic zone and over the continental shelf from Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental Protection Authority. This will enable discharge and dumping applications to be considered entirely within the new exclusive economic zone regime, which has more comprehensive environment assessments and consultation requirements than the Maritime Transport Act.
In closing, the proposed changes will promote maritime safety and marine environmental protection through the enhancement of existing measures in the Maritime Transport Act of 1994—may I say, a superb Act in itself. I commend the bill to the House.
PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te
: Labour will be supporting the Marine Legislation Bill to the select committee. This is an omnibus bill that amends the Maritime Transport Act of 1994, as Mr Williamson was just telling us, and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act of 2012—only recently passed into law, that particular bit of legislation—to enact various international conventions around maritime safety and ocean pollution. This is a bill that is worthy of support. It is a reasonable bill. It is drafted to include a number of measures to boost port and harbour safety, and give a little more teeth to the voluntary New Zealand Port and Harbour Marine Safety Code. I will just mention some of those things. They are unremarkable but useful provisions.
The bill will extend authority for a Maritime New Zealand director to take action where port safety is a risk to the safety of shipping or the marine environment—sounds
reasonable enough. It places responsibility on port operators and regional councils to address maritime safety issues—nothing to object to there. The Minister of Transport is given power to make rules to ensure port and ship traffic safety. The Local Government Act is amended to move some provisions into the Maritime Transport Act and allow local government to apply national maritime safety laws without creating by-laws. Regional councils will be required to appoint suitable harbour masters—as they should—who will, alongside enforcement officers, be able to issue infringement notices for breaches of maritime laws.
It is an unobjectionable bill; it is just a little late. In fact, it is $50 million too late, because this National Government is such a shambles it could not get its act together to pass into law international conventions that would have saved the taxpayer $50 million. When this Government came to office at the end of 2008, the briefing to the incoming Minister recommended that he implement and sign up to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, otherwise known as the “bunker convention, and to a number of changes to the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims. If it had done that, instead of shelving that important advice, the New Zealand taxpayer would not be left in the position of having to fork out the lion’s share of $50 million to pay for the clean up of the
This Government should be embarrassed today that this bill is a form of fronting up in this House to the New Zealand taxpayer for a massive waste of taxpayers’ resources because this Government is such a shambles it was not able to see the significance of implementing those recommendations from officials. Steven Joyce is on the record. He has acknowledged it. He said: “Unfortunately it wasn’t made clear there would be the effect that it is obviously having in this case in terms of the level of potential liability. It’s disappointing,”—he said—“but you deal with the hand you’re dealt with.” Well, that Minister was advised in the incoming briefing that this Government should implement these conventions. The work was all done under the last Labour Government. It was there on the desk of the new Minister, but he could not see fit to implement those recommendations. As a result, taxpayers are going to have to pay the cost of cleaning up the
There is another issue that jumps out from this bill that I think is worth commenting on in this first reading debate. Due to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and
Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978, the bill imposes an “alcohol limit of 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood on masters, officers, and other merchant seafarers performing safety, security, or marine environmental duties.” Why could the drafters of this bill have come up with this amount—0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood? It is interesting. It is possibly a completely arbitrary amount—0.05. That is very interesting. That is the same 0.05 millilitres that the Government refused to legislate for people driving a motor vehicle. So it is OK for merchant seamen, seafarers, masters, and officers to be held to that standard of alcohol consumption when they are in charge of a vessel on our coastline, but it is not OK to expect the same level of people who are in charge of a motor vehicle on our roads. Well, that is very interesting.
Andrew Williams: Usual double standards.
PHIL TWYFORD: Exactly, Mr Williams. It is the kind of double standard that we have come to expect from this Government. What we know is that all the research and all the international best practice points to 0.05 millilitres as being the obvious standard that is required of someone who is in charge of a motor vehicle or a ship on our coastline. It is the obvious standard that people should be held to, but what we know also is that the Minister of Transport pulled that provision and refused to support it because he did not like the optics, because it might be seen to be a bit too nanny State
for this National Government. Yet it is perfectly happy for merchant seamen and officers to be held to this standard, and not allowed to have any more alcohol in their blood than 0.05 millilitres when they are in charge of a ship on our coastline. But apparently it is OK, Mr Bennett, for New Zealanders to drive a car when they have that much alcohol in their bloodstream. Well, I am sure we will have some very interesting discussions at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee about that. Apparently about 80 vessels would be affected by this change, and the regulatory impact statement estimates that there will be 10 incidents per year that could be affected or avoided because of this new provision. This compares with the 34 percent of fatal car accidents that are linked to alcohol, and what we know is that National will not, against all the good advice it has had, reduce the blood-alcohol level for motorists to 0.05 millilitres.
It is interesting, I think, also to note that the 0.05 level is already less restrictive than that faced by a number of vessels already operating on New Zealand’s coastline. The two Cook Strait ferry operators have zero-alcohol limit, and Pacifica Shipping, the last remnant of our coastal shipping service, which has been destroyed by the policies of this National Government, has a blood alcohol limit of 0.04 for its employees. So a limit of 0.05 is not Draconian, but it is too Draconian for National to implement that limit in regard to motorists.
The third point that I want to make is that there are numerous other Maritime Transport Act amendments in this bill that relate to the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act. There are 37 pages of amendments to the exclusive economic zone legislation—legislation that this National Government passed only a month ago. What kind of shambles is this—that it would bring 37 pages of amendments to this House a month after the exclusive economic zone legislation was pushed through this House? What an absolute embarrassment! These amendments raise the question of why the Minister for the Environment, Amy Adams, had to dump the substantive changes in her Supplementary Order Paper 100 on the select committee rather than including them in the bill. It also goes some way to explaining why the exclusive economic zone legislation was rushed back from the select committee, as the Marine Legislation Bill must be passed this year if it is going to meet the January deadline that is set down in the conventions. This is really a shambles. Why is this Parliament being asked to process these many amendments only a month after National passed its exclusive economic zone legislation? I think members on that side of the House have some questions to answer.
DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East)
: To members of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee who are here, we welcome the Marine Legislation Bill to our select committee. I am sure all members will be working hard and diligently to make sure that it progresses through in a speedy and timely manner. I would just like to thank the acting Minister, Maurice Williamson, for his work in this area. Maurice Williamson has had a long history in transport matters, especially maritime ones—[Interruption]—a long and proud history, as members of the Opposition are saying.
Then we have Mr Phil Twyford, who has just resumed his seat. Phil is a good member of our committee. He is a good member. He is somebody who listens and works hard, so he is a good member. When he started off his speech, the first 5 minutes were brilliant, actually. He was going through the legislation and saying that he agrees with the changes that are being made and saying how supportive he is. The only thing he forgot to tell you was that it was a shame the Labour Party never did it when it had the chance.
When Labour was in Government it did not pass the maritime legislation that was needed to protect New Zealand against a situation like the one caused by the
Rena. Labour had the opportunity to do it, and did not do it. It is all right to come into this
House now and say in hindsight: “If you look at the statement to the incoming Minister it says that you should have passed this legislation.”, when we had 9 long years of Labour members sitting there, not passing it, not doing anything, and leaving it for a good National Government to have to deal with.
We have had to deal with the problems that have been inflicted upon this country and this economy by the previous Government, and this is just another example of what it did wrong and what we have to deal with now. So it is a little bit rich for the Opposition to come into this House now and talk about delays and things like that. Those delays are not the effect. The real effect is that we had a previous Government that would not do it when it should have done it, and now we have to pick up the pieces. We are cleaning up after them.
This bill is a good bill, and I presume that the Labour Party will support it all the way through. I think Labour members will recognise that the bill has a lot of things that are needed and should have been done when they had the chance, and I think they will support it. I think the New Zealand First Party will support it as well. I do not think we will have a problem there, but I think you will find that the Green Party members will be the only people voting against it, and that is because they will not read it and just want to vote against it like they normally do for everything else.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I find that offensive. Even I find that offensive.
DAVID BENNETT: But I think that most reasonable parties in this House will vote for it. That is good. It means that we as a country can deliver good legislation going forward. Mr Mallard is over there saying something that is incomprehensible, but that is typical over on that side of the House.
When we look at the legislation we see there are some main provisions. There are some changes made to a number of other pieces of legislation and they include changes to the oversight of port, harbour, and navigation safety, and the implementation—
Phil Twyford: What a shambles.
DAVID BENNETT: —of some international maritime conventions and protocols. Mr Twyford is again saying it is a shambles. His Government did not do it—that is the message that we have to get through to New Zealanders, not the message he is trying to promote, which is deliberately leading people down a path that is not the case. The real case is that Labour did not do it. There are also changes relating to the making of maritime and marine protection rules, and the transferring of the regulation of the discharge and dumping of waste.
So there are some very important changes there. All New Zealanders want to have a strong and beautiful natural environment on their coastlines. We are a country that has a lot of coast, and coming from an inland city, we are very fortunate to be able to go to—
Hon Members: Where?
DAVID BENNETT: The great city of Hamilton, to those members who did not know. The ability to go to our harbours and enjoy our beaches is something that all New Zealanders love and cherish. This is important in providing that environmental balance in our community, and, hopefully, the Greens will support it because they see the need and the desire to look after those environmental aspects.
Brendan Horan: How much oil has been taken off the beaches?
DAVID BENNETT: How much oil has been taken off the beaches? I do not know whether you can get oil off the beaches. Maybe that is something that the New Zealand First Party is looking at in its dreams. The reality is that you normally drill for oil, I think members of the New Zealand First Party will find.
This bill is a good bill. It is important for us going forward in regard to maritime legislation. This is a bill that makes the necessary changes. It is a bill that is overdue, but it has been overdue for many, many years, and the Opposition cannot blame the
Government for that. This is a bill that achieves the right result, and we look forward to the select committee working through it in the best way possible. Thank you.
GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Leader—Labour)
: David Bennett, who has just resumed his seat, has clearly been asleep for longer than I thought. I know he has been asleep for some time, but it was clearly longer, because he appears to have forgotten that the
Rena did actually run aground on Astrolabe Reef. A large amount of oil washed up on the beaches, Mr Bennett—a very large amount of oil—and ordinary New Zealanders got out there with their shovels and their buckets and put their gloves on and helped clean up those beaches because it mattered to them. Meanwhile they said to themselves: “What is the National Government doing? What’s it been doing to make sure that when things like this happen, the cost to New Zealanders is mitigated?”. The truth that Mr Bennett knows is that when his Government came in
in 2008 not only had a select committee recommended that these conventions be signed up to but the drafting instructions for this legislation, for putting those international conventions into New Zealand law—which would have significantly limited the liability on New Zealand taxpayers—had been written.
We have the Official Information Act documents that show us that the drafting instructions were already written. The Government was ready to go on this, and it sat on it. It sat on this from day one of coming into Government. Then, in October 2011, we had the worst ever maritime disaster in this country, and that Government over there had had 3 years to get that law in place. The work had been done by the previous Labour Government. It was ready to go. The conventions were looked at and studied, the drafting instructions were written, and that Government let New Zealanders down by not making sure that legislation was in place.
Today we have New Zealanders who believe in protecting their coastline and who got out there and worked hard to make sure that they cleaned up those beaches. They have been let down by this Government, because this Government failed to put in place the law so that there was an obligation on those shipping companies to meet their fair share of the costs. So today the bill comes here and we support it, because of course it is the right thing to do. But we support it knowing that this need not have happened. New Zealanders need not have had to foot such a huge bill if the Government had done its job properly and implemented these conventions.
- Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
GRANT ROBERTSON: Before the break we had been discussing the Marine Legislation Bill, and in particular the aspect of the bill that the Labour Party strongly supports, which is finally passing into New Zealand law the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, and the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims. These are two essential pieces of international law that can protect New Zealand’s environment and New Zealand taxpayers, and that should have been done by this Government, which, when it came into office in 2008, had a bill. The drafting instructions had gone to the Parliamentary Counsel Office—we have got the papers; it shows that—and it sat on its hands. We have had had a lot of criticism coming across the House about what the previous Labour Government had done. What the previous Labour Government had done is do what it should have done: it had taken those conventions to a select committee, and the select committee had looked at them and approved them.
Hon Ruth Dyson: When was that?
GRANT ROBERTSON: That was in 2008.
Hon Ruth Dyson: 2008?
GRANT ROBERTSON: That was in 2008. The Government comes into office, it gets a briefing that says these are ready to go, the drafting instructions have gone to the Parliamentary Counsel Office, and it sat on its hands. Then in October 2011, we had New Zealand’s worst ever maritime disaster, which at the moment the Government thinks will cost us up to $50 million, and this Government sat on its hands. It means that we will wear the majority of that cost as a country. This Government has let New Zealanders down. This Government has let the people of the Bay of Plenty down, because it failed to do its job and put these conventions into law. So today a bill comes to Parliament and we say: “Yes, thank you very much, that’s great.” But it is too little, too late from this Government.
While we are on the subject of the
Rena, it stands to me as remarkable as we come towards the 1-year anniversary that we still have not had a proper comprehensive inquiry into our worst ever maritime disaster. This merits a royal commission. I know Gareth Hughes from the Greens has been calling for that, Labour has been calling for that, and the Government does not want to talk about it. It does not want to talk about it because it sat on its hands for 3 years, when it should have been putting in place the conventions that would have limited the liability for the taxpayer. It does not want to talk about it because in those 5 clear days after the
Rena ran aground when so little happened, when something could have been done to prevent the worst of the damage, nothing happened. There should be an inquiry into the
Rena and it is outrageous that this Government has stepped back from that. So we do welcome the introduction of these conventions into law. We know that this is the right thing to do. The Government knows it is the right thing to do. It is just that it has taken it 3 years to finally do the right thing.
Hon Ruth Dyson: What have they been doing?
GRANT ROBERTSON: What has it been doing? That is a very good question, Ruth Dyson. What is this Government doing? It is distracted on issues and stuff-ups of its own making around asset sales. It is not doing the kind of work that is actually important for protecting our environment and protecting New Zealand taxpayers.
I want to move on to another matter, which my colleague Phil Twyford did raise, and that is the change within this particular law around the question of blood-alcohol limits for masters, officers, and other merchant seafarers performing safety, security, or marine environmental duties. This comes under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and
Watchkeeping for Seafarers. This is an important area. We want to be assured that people controlling vessels in our area are not under the influence of alcohol. So it is fantastic to see that the bill will impose an alcohol limit of 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. That is a very good limit. It is a limit that obviously makes sense for people who are using vessels in the seas. Would it not also make sense for people who are using things on land in New Zealand? The other side of the House have been telling us: “Oh no, we can’t reduce the blood-alcohol limit to 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood inside New Zealand.” But suddenly a bill shows up in the House that says we need to do it when people are in control of vessels in our waters. We support that on this side of the House, but I look to the other side of the House and I say: “Why aren’t they capable of putting this in place for the safety of New Zealanders on the roads in New Zealand?”.
Hon Steven Joyce: Ah!
GRANT ROBERTSON: Mr Joyce is here.
Hon Steven Joyce: Because you were so good at that!
GRANT ROBERTSON: Mr Joyce is on the other side of the House. Mr Joyce used to think this was a good idea. He went on radio and said: “I was shocked at how much wine I could drink and still be under the limit.” But then he backed off. He backed off.
The focus group must have mentioned the nanny State word and Steven Joyce backed off. This is the right thing to do on the high seas, Mr Joyce. It is the right thing to do in New Zealand. But once again the National Government lets down New Zealanders by not doing the right thing here on land, but instead it puts up a law that says, yes, this should be right for masters on the sea. Well, that is good; we support that. But it is time for Mr Joyce and the National Government to actually get up and do the right thing for New Zealanders on the roads, not just on the high seas.
The last matter I want to come to in this bill is the 37 pages of amendments to the exclusive economic zone legislation. Those people watching on Parliament TV tonight, who follow Parliament regularly, may be aware that we have spent quite a lot of time recently on the exclusive economic zone bill, so it is some surprise to find that there are another 37 pages of amendments to a bill that we have only just passed in this House. I guess we should count our blessings. The Minister’s Supplementary Order Paper that she did put up on the exclusive economic zone legislation was long enough, and it would have been a whole lot longer if this had happened. But it does point to the absolute shambles that is lawmaking under this Government.
Maggie Barry: It’s called negotiating with you people.
GRANT ROBERTSON: Maggie Barry says it is called negotiation. That well-known mediator and peacemaker Maggie Barry is telling us that it is all about negotiation. Well, what we know on this side of the House is that this is a bill that should pass. We are supporting it on its first reading, but it is a bill that should have been before this House long ago. It would have limited the liability that New Zealanders have had from the
Rena. It is something that we want to see pass through this House, but this Government needs to own up to New Zealanders that it let New Zealanders down by not putting this legislation in place when it already had the legislation drafted and when it knew it was the right thing to do. It sat on its hands to New Zealanders’ cost. Finally, tonight it is doing something about it.
GARETH HUGHES (Green)
: Kia ora, Mr Speaker.
Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. Kia ora. I rise to take a call on this Marine Legislation Bill. We are talking about something of great importance to New Zealanders: our oceans. In New Zealand we love our oceans and we want to protect them. We are a coastal people. It is not just about how we get our income from our vibrant fishing and aquaculture industries; it is also where we play and it is where we recreate. This is where we boat, we fish, and we surf.
As we saw over the
incident, which has been touched on numerous times in this debate, that sacred relationship that we have with our moana—our water—in New Zealand was shaken right to the core. Oil on our beaches was not this academic thing you saw on TV and in the papers; it was something New Zealanders could see, they could touch, and they could smell. It was something that they were deeply shocked about with our Government’s response and its failure to act with the haste, the urgency, the expertise, and the infrastructure needed to respond to what was our worst maritime disaster.
I regularly went to Tauranga in the days and weeks following that disaster, and what I saw there was almost like a relationship someone has when someone dies. In the first days we saw the shock—people could not believe what was happening on our waters. Then we saw the anger—anger because there was no one on the beaches to clean up the stuff. There were no booms at some of the estuaries. Then we saw the sadness—the sadness as those dead birds and those dead animals washed up on the beaches. So it is good to be in this House—the House of law in New Zealand—to be debating how we can improve our marine environmental and safety protection legislation.
Looking at the structure of the bill—it is an omnibus bill—I think it has three main parts of importance. It amends a couple of bills, the Maritime Transport Act and the
Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act. It makes a couple of big changes. The first is to amend the Maritime Transport Act in terms of port and harbour safety, local regulation, and navigation safety. In terms of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act and in terms of marine pollution regulation, it changes the way that rules and regulations are developed. And, lastly, it allows New Zealand to accede to the three international maritime conventions that we have talked about and that I will talk about at some length.
First up, I would like to say that the Green Party is welcoming the introduction of this bill. We will be supporting it. We urge the public to make a submission to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee. We want to hear from experts, because there are some good parts in this bill, and there are a few questions we would also like to raise.
In this contribution I would like to touch very briefly on some of the environmental and safety protection changes advocated in this piece of legislation, but then touch on the financial liability we saw with the
First up, the safety provisions in the legislation we think make a lot of sense. They look pretty common sense, from a cursory reading. That is why we welcome hearing from the harbour masters and hearing from the experts, and hope they make submissions to the select committee.
The bill gives effect to the amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training Certification and
Watchkeeping for Seafarers. This is something that we have heard in this debate. It is curious that this Government is quite happy to go against all the international evidence, all the calls from New Zealanders—both experts and lay public—for a lowering of the blood-alcohol level. Internationally, it is quite happy for seafarers,
watchkeepers, and people doing environmental monitoring around ships to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.5, but when it comes to people driving a tonne of metal down the road at 100 kilometres per hour, it is quite happy to have legal intoxication. I think it is quite curious, and I think the mad contradiction of the Government’s policies has been quite graphically highlighted with this provision.
We are seeing 37 pages of amendments to the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act—37 pages about a law we passed only a month ago. I think the Government benches should be embarrassed. It is an absolute shambles. You have got to ask what is happening in the Government’s decision-making processes to have this happening. Are these different Ministers not talking to each other? It is an embarrassing shambles. It highlights the sloppy process. It is mostly highlighted by the fact that we saw over the
Rena that it was the taxpayer who had to pick up the tab because of the Government’s laziness, because of the Government’s incompetence, and also because of the Government’s simple inability to read the briefings to the incoming Minister that advocated New Zealand signing up and acceding through legislation to three international conventions that would have protected our taxpayers when this accident occurred.
This accident was foreseeable, this accident was avoidable, and the taxpayers’ money could have been better protected, but because of the decisions made by the Minister Steven Joyce, who is in the House, the taxpayers had to front up. We know from former Minister Nick Smith that the cost of the
Rena oil spill to date has cost the taxpayer $130 million. It was not only shock that people in the Bay of Plenty and around the country saw; it has had a huge fiscal impact on the taxpayer.
What we know is that Steven Joyce must be the most unpopular Minister around the National Cabinet table. Well, that is what we hear from the Whale Oil’s blog, anyway. It is a cunning case study of how a Minister can leave a mess for other Ministers. What we saw was that in 2008 Minister Joyce had on his table a briefing saying: “You need to
protect the taxpayer.” The Labour Government had done all the work. It had even started drafting the thing. Minister Joyce said: “Oh, no, don’t worry; a future Minister can deal with that. The taxpayer will pick up the tab.” Just like in transport, the Minister, the
“Colossus of Roads”,
went around the country announcing $14 billion of motorways, then he left it up to the current Minister, Gerry Brownlee, who has to face the music that there just is not enough money in the kitty. We saw it with the biofuels strategy. We heard this morning on the radio that Steven Joyce is now welcoming
NorskeSkog moving to Tasmania and enlarging its plant. All of a sudden, biofuels are on the Government’s agenda, despite the fact that in May the Government scrapped all biofuel support. It is curious as a case study in how a Minister can leave a mess for other Ministers. The serious issue is that his very purposeful decisions have meant that the taxpayers have had to pick up the tab.
It is good that we are seeing these international liabilities finally getting acceded to, after some of them were negotiated decades ago—decades ago—and taxpayers picked up that tab. It is good to see. But I also want to point out that the Government is missing a whole bunch of other steps. It is good to see that the Government has finally listened to our oil spill protection plan released in October last year, but, unfortunately, it missed out a couple of the other parts that the Green Party was calling for, like an inquiry into the
Rena. It is almost a whole year since we had the
disaster. We have had a couple of Government inquiries but no broad-based inquiries looking at the role that these—in many cases—untrained foreign crews have in New Zealand waters. We have one of the least regulated shipping regimes in the world. What role did that play? We need an inquiry to look at why on earth the Government did not have oil spill equipment in the country. It is meant to be able to deal with an oil spill of 3,500 tonnes, but it struggled and needed two airplane-loads full of equipment to cope with a spill of only a few hundred tonnes. We need to know why the Government refused the advice of both corporates and unions for a rapid response multi-purpose oil spill response vessel. That is why we need an inquiry. It is high time the Government got on and announced one.
We need to ask the question of why the Government has not taken the advice of the Green Party—again, in our plan—to adequately fund the Oil Pollution Fund. This Government raided it. There was $12 million to cope when accidents like these happen. The Government raided it and left only $3.4 million, but we know that the cost is $130 million. We know that the Government raided Maritime New Zealand’s transport pantry, leaving it without adequate funds. The Government has ignored our advice to recycle the funds from the fuel excise levy paid by boaties, which currently gets spent on the roads. Why does it not use that to adequately fund Maritime New Zealand to protect the environment we love? Lastly, what about compulsory shipping lanes and bringing back a form of flagging Kiwi vessels on our waters?
I will not go into detail on the three maritime conventions. I have got to add that although we are increasing the amounts that the New Zealand Government can access in case of an accident like this—when a ship spills and bunker fuel goes out—there is no change to the Resource Management Act, which was also shown to be woefully inadequate. There was a $130 million cost, but under the Government’s law it could claim only $600,000. It saw the light with the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act and actually increased that amount, but why are we not amending the Resource Management Act to allow those penalties to be increased here? Why are we not increasing the insurance amount required for oil drilling? We know that the Government wants to go on this risky, dangerous deep-sea oil drilling binge. We know that in the Gulf of Mexico it cost the American Government and oil companies $40 billion, yet this Government says: “Oh, it’s all right, guys, just have $30 million in insurance and that is all you need.”
We also see the Government failing to sign up to the Oil Pollution Compensation Fund’s supplementary fund, which, in the case of a tanker having a spill, means that the Government has got access to more than US$1.7 billion. Again, it is a missing piece of the puzzle that we will be raising in the select committee and hearing about from the experts. We look forward to engaging constructively. We acknowledge that this legislation is trying to improve the legislative regime for New Zealand, and, as such, we will work constructively to try to improve it even further. Kia ora.
JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany)
: It is a shame that a significant event like the
Rena grounding has been turned into such a political football here tonight. I think it is worthwhile acknowledging the people who spent hours and hours and hours on the beaches cleaning up the oil. I think it is worthwhile acknowledging the people who have risked their lives to try to dismantle and take containers off that grounded vessel. The people who acted immediately, the first responders to be on the scene so quickly and to be doing the work to try to sort out that situation as quickly as possible, should also be acknowledged. So rather than turning it into a political football, I think we should firstly be acknowledging the excellent work that has been done on trying to recover from that.
If you were to listen to the speeches of the Opposition members, you would almost come to believe and understand from their speeches that the Government drove the boat on to the reef. In fact, no, this Government has actually acted pretty quickly and very swiftly to deal with the consequences of that disaster. I think Steven Joyce and other Ministers who were involved should actually be congratulated on it too.
This legislation, the Marine Legislation Bill, is about making changes to the oversight of port, harbour, and navigation safety. It is also about making changes to implement our international maritime conventions and protocols. We have been criticised tonight—although there seems to be cross-party support for the legislation—and there has been a lot of criticism about the time that has been taken for these protocols to see legislative change. I think it is worthwhile looking at the dates, however, that these protocols were actually signed, because we are getting the criticism that this Government has done very little to implement the protocols. But, in fact, many of these protocols were signed a long time ago, and actually before the Labour Government came into office last, in 1999.
If Labour members want to criticise National for not implementing these protocols fast enough, they should really be looking at their own record, whereby they failed to implement these protocols as well. The Protocol to the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims was signed in 1996. The International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage came into effect in 2001. So if one wants to criticise the time that has been taken, one should look in the mirror when making comments like that.
The fact of the matter is that there was a disaster in New Zealand that has led to this greater impetus for these protocols to be enacted through legislation. We should be saying good on the Government for doing that, well done to the Government for putting in place legislation to bring these protocols into effect, and let us all work together on ensuring that the legislation we have in front of us is as well written as it can be and enacts the protocols in the way that we want it to.
I also want to touch briefly on the question of the protocol that sets the maximum alcohol limit of 0.05 grams of alcohol, which is going to be implemented through the legislation. Yes, I heard the criticism from Opposition parties on this as well, but I think there is actually a very logical explanation for it. If one actually reads the bill, you will see that New Zealand is a party to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and
Watchkeeping for Seafarers—for seafarers. That is actually a 1978 protocol. I think there were several Labour Governments in place post-1978, if we
are to be consistent with our points. Yes, that protocol does recommend that a maximum alcohol limit of 0.05 grams be implemented, but the logical reason why it is different from what we have in place for road users is that it is around risk mitigation. You have to say that if there is going to be somebody behind a multimillion-dollar vessel carrying hundreds of millions of tonnes of oil, with the risk that it could cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage to New Zealand’s sea and to New Zealand’s beaches, then, yes, you would have a greater risk mitigation strategy in place. That is what this is around.
If we were to take the logical conclusion of what the Opposition parties are arguing, that any laws around what happens at sea should also be reflected in what happens on land with vehicles, then I would like to bring up the case of aviation. I come from an aviation background. In aviation, the aviation rules, the regulations, actually do not allow pilots to have any alcohol in their blood when they are flying. No crew member in aviation can have any alcohol in their blood. So if the Opposition parties are saying that if there is a 0.05 gram limit for people at sea then that should also apply on land for vehicles, then I am guessing that they are also arguing that if there is a zero limit for aviation then there should also be a zero limit for vehicles. I look forward to them coming out and telling the New Zealand public that there is to be a zero limit for alcohol for vehicles, because I do not think that would go down very well.
Let us all get behind this legislation and realise that it is implementing some important international protocols that arguably should have been put in place some years ago. But if we are going to be critical about the timing, then we should all look in the mirror, because it is a case of several Governments having not implemented those protocols. We are taking the steps now to do that, and that should be congratulated.
BRENDAN HORAN (NZ First)
: I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to speak on the Marine Legislation Bill. New Zealand First will support this bill through the first reading, but with reservations. The New Zealand First stance on firm regulation for the safety and protection of our shipping, harbours, and environment is robust and well documented. How sad it is that if it was not for the deregulation of our shipping industry by the National Government in the early 1990s, a disaster such as the
Rena would never have occurred. As I said, we will support the first reading, but based on increasing the damage liabilities and enforcing alcohol limits.
There is a question mark about our processes. We need look only at the petition by the people of Gisborne—the good people of Gisborne. They wonder about our Transport and Industrial Relations Committee’s effectiveness in fair, robust discussion and dissection of submissions, because, you see, the people of Gisborne were ignored. There were 10,800 signatures on a petition, but the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee ignored them. So New Zealand First is very concerned about the nature and fair determination of that select committee. The question has to be asked whether this committee is up to asking the hard questions of submitters and to going with what is fair and true, rather than party majority - based outcomes.
You know, I found it very interesting listening to “Mr Fait Accompli” earlier—that is, the chair of the select committee, David Bennett. You see, I was there at the select committee when the soft, wet-towel questions were asked of Maritime New Zealand. It was little more than Government propaganda. That is what we have had from this Government regarding the
Rena. It has been interesting listening to people talking about the
Rena disaster as if all the oil is cleaned up, but it is not. There are still at least 10 tonnes or more of oil in the
Rena. I have been talking to the experts about that.
You know, let us now consider some of the propaganda. Do you remember the week before the election when Mr Joyce came out and said that all the oil had been cleaned up? Do you remember that? It was a week before the election. I have an
iPad here with
photographs. I can pull them up if you like. I will do that, because it is interesting. Listen up, you National backbenchers over there. Cast your eyes on this. Hold on—it takes a little while to pull them up sometimes. It is just like the National Government and how the people of New Zealand are pulling you up [Interruption]—you see, they are waking up! Here we go. So here we have a picture of oil on the beach. I have got here a picture of an Irish tourist at Christmas with oil all over her feet. I have in here a picture of my daughter, who is 6 years old, off Papamoa beach in January, with oil in her hair and her ears. I have in here pictures of locals who had to even make tools to collect tonnes of oil off the beach.
You know, it is just amazing, because one would never think we would have such propaganda in New Zealand, that anybody would get away with it, or that they could block the media from going out to that boat. You see, I probably know more about the
Rena, because at night I went to where those foreigners who were cleaning up the
Rena, the salvagers, were going for their dinner and their drinks, all on the taxpayer. So I found out exactly what they knew about how much oil was taken off the
Rena and about the processes involved, which this country was kept in the dark over. Even now, when we ask the Government how much of the taxpayers’ money has been spent on this clean-up, members over there come up with a figure like $38.9 million. But we know that it is much more than that. You see, we in Tauranga know about the “spillionaires” who have been created. We know about the relatives of certain members who have these massive crane contracts. We know all about that.
You know, when this Government is asked about the true cost to the taxpayer of New Zealand and the people of Tauranga, why do you not include the lost jobs, the devastation on the businesses, and the thousands who have left Tauranga because of the devastating effect that the
Rena has had on tourism? And while we are at it, where is the associate transport—oh, I should not say that. Is it not amazing how the Associate Minister of Transport has managed to avoid this bill? We needed Simon Bridges to be standing up for the people of Tauranga through this bill—you know, the squeaky-voiced one. It is amazing his voice is so squeaky, because it should be a whole lot smoother for the amount of oil that has spilt on the Tauranga beaches, which he has done nothing about. It should be smooth like Mr Joyce’s. But I will say—
Jonathan Young: This is shameful.
BRENDAN HORAN: No, what is shameful is the woeful, inadequate effort that this Government has made for, and the woeful, inadequate service that this Government has given to, the people of Tauranga and the people of New Zealand over the most devastating oil spill that we have ever had in this country.
But I will say that this bill does have some potential, because this bill does set out to give regional councils powers to appoint harbour masters and enforcement officers and to establish navigation by-laws. It empowers regional harbour masters and enforcement officers with the authority to issue infringement notices for breaches of maritime rules. It also almost doubles the liability limits for maritime claims for loss of life, injury, property damage, etc. So there are a few things in here that are very good.
However, I am concerned when we look at changing the Maritime Transport Act so that the director of Maritime New Zealand has the power to take action when port management poses a risk to shipping and/or the environment. I am concerned about that because, unlike the backbenchers of National over there, I live in Tauranga, and I was there. I was there when we had 5 days of beautiful weather, and the National Government did nothing. It sat on its haunches. Then on the 6th day, when the weather started to get bad and it realised that it better do something, it held a public meeting, and it was at Tauranga Boys’ College. It was in the hall. Those National members were there with the national appointee, this director of Maritime New Zealand. And what did
they organise in this hall that fits about 800 people? They organised a very small video screen, which nobody could see. They could not even organise a sound system that would work for all the people who were in there, so nobody really heard anything much from that day.
I remember asking the question of Simon Bridges, who was chairing that meeting, “What are you going to do on Thursday, when the winds turn west by north-west?”. The answer was “Oh, we are hoping for a change in the weather.” You see, a person of the sea or that area should have known, and would have known, that when the winds turn west by north-west there, that oil was heading down to
Maketū to devastate the endangered dotterel population.
You know, there is a lot to be said about this bill. It is pretty big. Here it is. Is it not big? We might end up with some legislation in here to punish polluters of a maritime nature, but where in this bill are the safeguards of oil and pollution response? Sadly, this bill lacks the essential ingredient: it lacks the preventive cure. Thank you.
CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National)
: Normally I would say that it is a pleasure to follow Brendan Horan as a speaker, but I am afraid—
Kris Faafoi: Sit down then.
CHRIS AUCHINVOLE: Well, it is not quite that simple, Mr Faafoi. The reality is that he wasted an awful lot of his speech dealing with minutiae, and dealing with personal difficulties that he has with other members of Parliament, and there was very little concentration on the Marine Legislation Bill. Indeed, it is quite interesting to hear the expressions of commitment that people have to the environment when something has gone wrong. I would have thought it more beneficial to the public, to this House, and to the level of debate to concentrate on what the bill will do. People are permitted to say what their connection with the environment is, but they should realise—this is not a criticism of Gareth Hughes, not a criticism at all—that others have an association with the marine environment as well.
Indeed, a lot of my early years of life were spent being an oyster farmer in Hokianga. I was very conscious of the purity of water and the need for that sort of thing. But so much concentration has been given to the tragic event of the
Rena that I am not sure exactly what people think legislation can do. No law that I am aware of can give absolute protection against accident, against marine breakdown, against human failings in officers and crew.
Much has been made that this legislation could have been introduced at an earlier period. Well, if you look at the legislation we pass, I would have thought that that applies to most legislation. Generally we follow behind the requirement, rather than in anticipation of the need. When we do
do that, I notice this Government comes in for a lot of criticism. Just think about that. Just dwell on it a little.
It is said that this bill could have been introduced as soon as we became the Government. Well, if it was that close—and I reflect the view of my colleague Mr
Jami-Lee Ross—why could it not have been done a little earlier? Why is it that now, after an awful event, it should have been done earlier? Why was legislation not introduced by the previous Government? I do not think that we are going to be told that. I do not think we are going to be told. But I do encourage the members opposite to reflect on their criticism of our not having legislation in place to deal with events that may not have happened in the past—may not have happened in the past—and of our introducing legislation so that we can cope with events when they do happen.
I reflect back to
Q+A on Sunday, when our Minister of Internal Affairs was talking about legislation that could be introduced to process large numbers of people who have not arrived yet. Will we be criticised for that? I guarantee we will. But perhaps Opposition members will think about things a little in the light of their response and
reaction to this particular bill not having been introduced earlier. These changes that are going to be introduced show that National is committed to building a more competitive and productive economy with a commitment and a balance between strong, sensible legislation and effectiveness towards the environment. It provides certainty around the laws that are involved, as well as improving safety and enforcement practices and environmental protection.
The main provisions of the Marine Legislation Bill—rarely touched on in speeches so far from the other side of the House—make amendments to the Maritime Transport Act and the exclusive economic zone legislation, including changes to the oversight of port, harbour and navigation safety.
Phil Twyford: I said that.
CHRIS AUCHINVOLE: Well, I am sure you did. Actually, I heard that your speech was one of the better ones—and I am sorry, but on that score, that does not say a lot, Phil. But I did hear it was one of the better ones. It concentrated on the bill, on things like implementing the international maritime conventions and protocols—which is a really good idea—changes relating to the making of maritime and marine protection rules, and transferring the regulation of discharge and dumping of waste.
Our safety procedures in our ports and harbours will always need improvement towards being state of the art. They are expensive pieces of infrastructure. Amendments will give clear authority for Maritime New Zealand to take action in situations where port management poses a significant risk to the safety of shipping and of the marine environment. This will reinforce the important role of regional council harbour masters in maintaining maritime safety.
This is a useful piece of legislation. It is incorporating changes to other legislation. That, too, is a good thing. I cannot see why members on the other side of the House are getting quite so upset. They should be pleased. They should, in the words of one of my colleagues who spoke earlier, be pleased. They should say well done to National, and I know that in their heart of hearts that is what they want to do. That is what they want to do.
They are smiling nicely because they know this is a useful piece of legislation. They are smiling nicely because they know they can give us a little bit of stick, but we have done what they should have done. We have done it now. We are facing up to it. We are meeting the requirements. Members opposite are basically pleased. They will join us in voting for this bill. I would hope that New Zealand First will join us in voting for this bill. I would hope that the Greens and all the other parties will vote for it, because there is no danger in it. There is no harm in it. It is a good bill, and I commend it to the House. Thank you.
Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills)
: I want to begin by praising the Hon Gerry Brownlee, the Minister responsible for this legislation, the Marine Legislation Bill. I say that it is an absolute pleasure for me to be standing in this House and supporting it.
I just want to give a little background to the frustration that we on this side of the House are feeling, not about the content of the legislation but the fact that had it been introduced when the select committee recommended and the House understood it was to be progressed, then the New Zealand taxpayer would be $50 million better off. I bet every single person in this House could think of a really good use for $50 million—a better use for $50 million than cleaning up oil on the beaches of Papamoa and
Maketū, as Brendan Horan has so graphically illustrated. In my electorate, we could have a lot of fences between my constituents’ homes and the rocks that are making their houses unsafe. That $50 million would actually protect the whole lot of them. They could all go
back and live in their homes, instead of living in horrible garages and caravans, as they currently are.
But that is not to undermine the excellent quality of this. Mr Auchinvole and his colleague from Auckland, Mr Ross, I think, did not seem to—
Phil Twyford: Lee Ross.
Hon RUTH DYSON: —sorry, Lee Ross—realise that actually the reason—
Hon Members: It’s Ross.
Hon RUTH DYSON: I was right the first time. It is very confusing when you have so many names! I am sorry about that. He did not seem to realise about the international conventions that this legislation puts into practice. The bunker oil convention is the critical one, and that did not come into force until 2008, so it was not actually possible for legislation to have been introduced under the Labour-led Government of the time. The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee looked at that convention, reported back into the House, and said it should be passed into law. The incoming Minister—
Chris Auchinvole: When was that?
Hon RUTH DYSON: At the end of 2008. The incoming Minister of Transport got a briefing that said that this legislation was ready to go and it should be introduced so that we could update the Maritime Transport Act in 2009. For some reason, and I am sure that members in the House will ask the Hon Steven Joyce what his reason for not progressing it was, the Government chose to not progress this legislation, which had already been considered in the convention consideration of the select committee and which was ready to go. So that was 2009, early on in the piece. We know what happened. On 5 October 2011 the
Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef.
Jami-Lee Ross—if I say it like that I am sure I will get the combination of first names and second names correct—basically said “Well, we weren’t steering the
Rena. We didn’t ride it on to the reef. It wasn’t the Government’s fault.” Well, nobody said it was, actually. I remember Steven Joyce raising the same point at the time. What we said then, and continue to say now, is that had the Government done the right thing and passed the legislation, which was ready to go, then the people who were in control of that situation would have been liable for the costs.
Actually, it is only a percentage of the costs, because I have been there and seen what damage it did to the communities. I know that the people who rely on seafood as part of their culture and way of life were devastated by what happened to their surrounding areas. I know that the people who operated the tourism facilities in Tauranga, Papamoa, the Mount—in those areas—were devastated that their livelihood was threatened by something that they were not even sure they were going to get compensation for. Thank goodness the Government came to the party and supported those businesses, but it was not required to. It was goodwill, and I want to acknowledge the Government for doing that. But the point that Labour, the Greens, and New Zealand First have been making is that this legislation that could have protected the taxpayers and was all ready to go, and had been worked on, was totally ignored by the Government. We cannot understand that. What have the Minister of Transport and his predecessor been doing for the last 4 years if they could not progress a bill that not only was ready to go but had cross-party support in this Parliament?
The second part of this bill is an amendment to the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act of 2012. It is really interesting when you look at the fact that we have been waiting for 4 years for this bill to come in to protect us against damage, such as what occurred with the
Rena reefing, and yet the second part of this very same bill has got 37 pages of amendments—37 pages of amendments—to the exclusive economic zone legislation, to a bill that we passed just a matter of weeks ago. How can it be? A bill that has just gone through this Parliament, not rammed
through under urgency—it went through a proper select committee process—did not get support from our party because the very point of it was not achieved in the legislation. Numerous amendments were ignored by the Minister and subsequently by her colleagues. Great efforts were made for a bipartisan approach. A multiparty approach would have followed in terms of the exclusive economic zone legislation, because we considered it was something too important to just override for some sort of petty political point-scoring. But the Minister went ahead and said “No, I’m not going to alter it. I’ll just go ahead.” Now, just a matter of weeks later, we see 37 pages of amendments. I think that is a bit of an indictment, really, on the shambles of process that this Government has been operating under.
The Minister of Transport is clearly not on top of this bit of work. The fact that it has taken him so long to get it out of the cupboard and into the House has cost us $50 million. The Government, day in, day out, tells us about cuts to front-line services that we have to put up with in our constituencies because there is not enough money, and here it is, frittering away $50 million because it could not get the bill on to the Order Paper fast enough. That is just bad management, actually. It is bad House management. It is a shambles and it reflects very poorly on the Minister. The Minister for the Environment has an equally poor reflection cast on her in this legislation. There are 37 pages of amendments to a bill on which the ink has hardly dried. It was only in the last sitting period that this Parliament was debating that legislation.
I just want to conclude by acknowledging the criticism, I suppose, that perhaps was a little unfair that Chris Auchinvole, who spoke immediately prior to me, talked about in relation to Brendan Horan’s speech. He said that Mr Horan had got quite obsessed with “minu-ties”. I know that a number of my colleagues have been discussing this very point at some length today. I know that Richard Prosser, Brendan Horan’s colleague, has been tweeting about that very subject and has made awards on this “minu-ties” subject. I want to just acknowledge Mr Speaker—not the current Speaker in the chair, but our regular Speaker—and I also want to acknowledge H V Ross Robertson and Alfred Ngaro, who are three of the male members of the House who are wearing their new ties today and who look extraordinarily dashing in their ties, if I might just say so. So thank you Mr Auchinvole for acknowledging that. It is great—[Interruption] I beg your pardon. At the risk of being named and sent from the Chamber, can I also acknowledge, Mr Deputy Speaker, your extraordinarily classy tie and say how well it looks on you.
Seriously, it is really good to be able to support this legislation. I am disappointed that it has taken so long to come before the House, but I look forward to its speedy progress through to its passing.
SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel)
: It is a great pleasure to rise in support of this omnibus bill, the Marine Legislation Bill, that is being presented to the House tonight, and to hear a number of interesting speeches from members from all sides of the House—some more enlightened than others. I cannot help but just point out to the honourable member Ruth Dyson, who has just resumed her seat, that she said in her speech that the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage was adopted in 2008. Well, in fact a quick check of the bill indicates that it was actually adopted in 2001, which would have given plenty of time for Labour to have enacted legislation and taken some action on it, should Labour have chosen to, during its 9 long years when it had the opportunity.
But this is, as I said, an omnibus bill that amends the Maritime Transport Act. It is important in my part of the world, because I represent the very fine electorate of Coromandel. It was on some beaches in the Coromandel electorate where oil,
nurdles—the little plastic things—and noodles as well, timber, milk powder, and other assorted
flotsam and jetsam, of course, washed up from the
Rena. I do not think any of us would deny for one minute that the
Rena incident was anything other than a huge tragedy and an environmental blot, but ours was a Government that acted, I think, quickly, responsibly, and with great efficiency. I want to take this opportunity at the introduction of this Marine Legislation Bill to thank the citizens of Coromandel—the people, the volunteers, the services, the providers, and the contractors—who assisted so nobly in the clean-up work. They did it with great enthusiasm not only because there was an immediate risk but also because they have a long-term, heartfelt interest and passion in their local environment and their local area. So this bill actually goes a long way to ensuring that environmental matters are taken care of—and that provision on bunker oil is, in my view, extremely important.
But I remember it well, because at that stage when the
Rena did go aground, I was but a mere, hard-working candidate. I can remember going down on to the beach at
Waihī at one point and finding there people who had just met with a fellow who had come down from Auckland in his shiny shoes for a few minutes and a photo opportunity. His name was Phil Goff. He was “Shiny Shoe” Phil—“Shiny Shoe” Phil—and at that point he was, of course, leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. What a lot happens in 12 months—what a lot happens in 12 months.
I would just like to go through for a minute or two and review a couple of the speeches that we have heard tonight. Of course, the Hon Maurice Williamson introduced the legislation to the House on behalf of the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee. He gave, I thought, an excellent introduction. He set out all the relevant points about the bill, and the fact it was an omnibus bill, and then we had a very good, and I thought, quite well-prepared and well-considered presentation from Phil Twyford. So I would like to compliment Phil on that presentation, which I thought was a very useful contribution. David Bennett, of course, made his almost always succinct, topical, and very presentable presentation. David Bennett is, of course, the chairman of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, and he will be guiding this bill through the select committee process. I am looking forward to taking my position on that select committee and being very much part of that team.
Grant Robertson made what could be described only as yet another leadership bid speech. It was powerful. It was compelling. It was probably the best speech that an aspiring Labour Party leader has made, certainly today, but probably also in the most recent weeks. We will see more of Grant Robertson’s leadership speeches, I am sure. And then we had Darren Hughes. Darren Hughes gave a speech and it was the first time I have been aware—[Interruption] sorry, Gareth—Gareth. It was the other—he is gone, is he not? He is the one who has gone. It was Gareth. He is the one. Probably what got me interested in that was that that is the first speech I have heard given by that member where fracking was not mentioned. That would have to be a first from that member in this House. Then we heard
Jami-Lee Ross give a very, very good presentation. He made excellent points. I am surprised that members opposite have difficulty remembering the member for Botany’s name, because his is a very, very good name, and he is doing a very good job.
But the prize tonight for the most bizarre speech was, of course, Brendan Horan’s speech. It was a very, very bizarre contribution. Brendan Horan is rapidly developing a reputation in this House for being the Forrest Gump of New Zealand politics—the fellow who is always there when action and great deeds and moments of history are there. He is always there to collect up spots of oil, to take photos on his
iPad, and to show them, or attempt to demonstrate them, to the House.
What about the bill? Well, the bill amends the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act, and it will, of course, make provisions
that are far stronger than we have seen in the past. It is a timely bill. It is a bill that is, I think, well endorsed by all sides of the House. In particular, it is a bill that seeks to substantially increase the amount of compensation payable for incidents like the
Rena, and that, I think, is a very good thing. So it is with great pleasure that I endorse and commend this bill to the House. I am looking forward to participating in the select committee proceedings under the very capable chairmanship of David Bennett, to hearing submissions on it, and to bringing it back into the House once it has passed the select committee process.
BRENDAN HORAN (NZ First)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I thought he was supposed to be speaking—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet. That is not a point of order.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Don’t yell.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Well, I need to make myself heard. If members do not sit immediately, they are at dire risk of getting some further action against them. The next call, I think, is a split call, is it?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills)
: I did not want to interrupt either of the following speakers. I seek leave to table the sheet from the website of the International Maritime Organization showing that the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage came into force on 21 November 2008.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there anyone opposed to that course of action? There is none. It shall be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is this a split call? [Interruption] Split call—a 5-minute call.
DARIEN FENTON (Labour)
: It is a pleasure to take a call on this bill, the Marine Legislation Bill, which is somewhat belated. I am looking forward to its consideration in the select committee because, as some of my colleagues have pointed out, there is an awful lot more to this bill than just the issue of the belated implementation of the conventions that would have made such a difference had they been in place during the
Rena disaster. I respect my colleagues on the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, and I want to point out that it is now chaired by David Bennett, but I have been in Parliament since 2005 and I have been on the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee all of that time. So I have very clear memories of what we did in 2008, before the last election, around these particular conventions.
I have in front of me the recommendation from the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee around the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage—the bunker convention—and also the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976. There was a majority recommendation to the House that these conventions be taken note of and preparation be made for their implementation, but what is even more interesting, when you go back to that time, is who was on the select committee. Who was on the select committee? Well, David Bennett, the member who spoke before dinner and said “Oh! The Labour Government should have done something about it in the last 4 years.” He was on the select committee. But it gets even better. It gets better than that, because the Hon Maurice Williamson was the deputy chairperson of that committee—
Phil Twyford: He introduced the bill!
DARIEN FENTON: He introduced the bill tonight—he introduced the bill! He was the deputy chairperson, and here he is trying to defend his Government’s abysmal record. Then, if we have a look at who else was on there, there was Kate Wilkinson.
What is she now? She is the Minister of Conservation. How interesting. How embarrassing that must be for those members. My speculation is that they became so overexcited about the idea of being Ministers when the National Party became the Government in 2008 that they forgot all about the work, the important work, that had been done on the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee—and will continue to be done—and they forgot to brief the incoming Minister, Steven Joyce, who was then the Minister of Transport. Of course, we also know that the ministry briefed him when he was the incoming Minister and said that it was preparing to introduce legislation to update the Maritime Transport Act. Well, it has taken an election in 2008 and another election for this legislation to hit the House.
Phil Twyford: They should be embarrassed.
DARIEN FENTON: They should be embarrassed by that.
I just want to make a couple of other comments. I know there are other really important things that we have to talk about tonight, so I do not want to take up too much time. But I did want to—
Maggie Barry: Sit down then.
DARIEN FENTON: Yes, thank you, Maggie Barry, as polite as always—polite as always. Really constructive, you know—a really constructive member of the House. We really enjoy your contributions, thank you very much—thank you very much.
Iain Lees-Galloway: Don’t be sarcastic, Darien.
DARIEN FENTON: Oh, am I being sarcastic? I thought being sarcastic was that member’s forte, actually.
However, I did want to observe that there are other things in this bill that will be very important for us to consider. There are issues around port safety that are included in this bill. I will be very interested to hear the submissions from various people about port safety, because we do have an issue about port safety in New Zealand, with a very, very unregulated port system and coastline. I do think, actually, that while the Government was so busy including all sorts of references to the Local Government Act 1974, it could have included a very, very important one that would have incorporated my bill, which would ensure that there was transparency and that there was accountability for ports companies when it comes to the Official Information Act. It has not done that, of course, and we all know that part of the problem with the
Rena is that we have an unregulated coastline and that the Government ditched the very successful programme of the Labour Government around Sea Change and moving towards coastal shipping as part of an integrated transport strategy. This will be a very, very interesting select committee, but I do hope that at the end of it the members take more notice than they did of the last consideration we had on this issue.
JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany)
: I seek leave to table a document from the International Maritime Organization showing the bunker oil convention was adopted on 23 March 2001.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there anyone opposed to that course of action? There is none.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you seeking a call? Denise Roche. [Interruption] Order! The member should proceed. [Interruption] Order!
DENISE ROCHE (Green)
: I rise to take a short call for the Greens. As you have heard from my colleague Gareth Hughes, we will be supporting the Marine Legislation Bill, because we believe it does start to address some of the weaknesses in our legislation around protecting our waters from the marine disasters that we saw so clearly with the grounding of the
Rena. It was an entirely predictable accident, and I think
others have mentioned that already, but the deregulation of the 1990s, which has carried on through until today actually, has resulted in an enormous number of rust buckets—ships that are sailing under flags of convenience with foreign crews that are plying their trade around our coasts and in our ports—which are adding to the risks that we have. So it is good to see this Government wanting to introduce some regulation at last.
It is really good to see the inclusion of the International Maritime Organization conventions in this bill, although we note that the ones around oil spills and liability for shipowners still do not make them liable for paying the entire cost of clean-ups. We support this bill’s intention to amend the Maritime Transport Act to enable better local regulation by local authorities relating to local port and harbour safety.
There are a few things that I am hoping will come through in the select committee—and I am on the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, as well. There are a couple of gaps. One is that this bill, and the exclusive economic zone legislation as well, does not address the issue of emissions of particulates and carbon dioxide emissions from the container ships and cruise ships that are berthing in our cities’ harbours. But there is a convention that we might want to sign up to—that is, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. We have got close to it with one of the conventions that is in this bill, but we are not quite there.
It would make sense to adopt some of the regulations that are international best practice now, because the Auckland Council is already saying that there are huge peaks in carbon dioxide emissions from the dirty fuel that is used by container ships and cruise ships while they are berthing in Auckland. The Rugby World Cup last year was a great success for our country, but during that time the dangerous emissions that came from dirty fuel from the cruise ships that were berthed there were quite beyond what is normal.
We would also like to see this bill take into account some of the other international regulations around speed. Generally, with the beefing up of the local authorities’ ability to set some safety and environmental regulations in their own ports, there are still some issues around their ability to set the speed of the container ships in their harbours. We have got that situation in the Hauraki Gulf, where I live. There is a population of
Bryde’s whales. There are only 250 of them in New Zealand. They are very rare. There are 40 to 50 of them that live in the Hauraki Gulf and most of them are living and feeding and resting around the shipping lanes. The harbour master has set the speed limit for the area that he controls at 12 knots. However, the ability of a
Bryde’s whale to survive ship strike at 12 knots is pretty limited. There is a much better prospect for them surviving if the speed is under 12 knots, and it is an even better situation for their survival if it is under 10 knots.
The Environmental Defence Society has actually worked alongside the Hauraki Gulf Forum and the Department of Conservation to look at ways that we could be asking the Minister of Transport to start to have some regulations around speed. I would suggest that since this bill takes into account the fact of driving those great, big container ships under the influence of alcohol, we should be looking at the speeds that those things are going at, because, as we know from the
Rena disaster, the faster you go, the bigger the mess. Thank you.
SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki)
: It is my pleasure to stand here and talk to the Marine Legislation Bill. I am going to be brief, so shall we just dive right in? The other side has carped on about this bill, but I am very pleased to stand here in unambiguous support of it. The Opposition has suggested that there is something fishy about this bill, but I would like to assure the House that I am giving it my seal of approval. They have tried to distract us with talk of the
Rena, about blood-alcohol levels and how they relate to driving, and so forth. We have even had attempted distractions
around the date of the bunker oil convention, which we now know definitively was ratified in 2001.
But, you see, Opposition members have gone on and on just for the halibut and if they are going to object, they should at least have a porpoise. Of course, they just sat around and did nothing and that has been one of the themes coming from us tonight—that the Labour Party in particular sat around for 9 years and did nothing. You might say that they had no net effect.
We need to get this bill through the House, because this National Government will not leave the environment and the economy floundering. We have had a whale of a time—a whale of a time—listening to their arguments, but they are rather shallow, if you get my drift—
Phil Twyford: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member is confused between the adoption and ratification of a convention—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order; that is a debating point. We do not use points of order to enter into the debate.
SIMON O’CONNOR: Yes, absolutely fishy, fishy. It is semantics, really—no good puns on that. All puns aside, this bill is a serious matter. I think we need to acknowledge and thank Minister Brownlee for sponsoring this bill, Minister Williamson for moving the first reading, and, of course, I add my voice to the chorus of support for the chair of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, David Bennett.
I am deeply committed to legislation that is clear and concise, and my colleagues have clearly outlined the elements of this bill, so I am not going to continue to go into it. I do want to acknowledge, of course, that this bill is continuing to modernise transport law. We have had similar changes in the areas of civil aviation and, of course, in land transport later. This should hold us, I believe, in good stead until we deal with space transportation in the future.
We are a world leader. New Zealand is a world leader when it comes to health and safety. This is also important in terms of New Zealand. This is an economy built around shipping. Needless to say we all came to this country by ship, and shipping is in our blood. I am sure that every member of this House will agree that the protection of our environment and our economy is a major concern for all New Zealanders, and I am looking forward to seeing this bill supported by all sides. This bill should not be the one that got away.
referred to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee.