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Oil spill Fisk

I was going to fisk this post. Ok, maybe I will.

With the Rena now likely to sink and spill the rest of its fuel and cargo across one of our busiest ports and favourite holiday spots, its worth thinking about the future. Beyond the immediate cleanup, what policies can we put in place to prevent or mitigate such messes in the future?

Or to put it another way how can the left make political hay out of this tragedy.

I asked the Greens over Twitter, and their responsewas

For a start: 1. No deep sea drilling 2. Invest in infrastructure & capability of Maritime NZ… Also better engagement with communities when disasters do happen.

All of which seem like good ideas.

…and all of which are actually idiotic ideas.

The Rena has exposed the sheer inadequacy of Maritime NZ’s oil spill management plans, which are gone into in some detail by Brian Rudman in today’s Herald. Their three-tier response model places a significant part of the responsibility on organisations which either do not care (polluters)

Well, by definition polluters don’t care. But that’s irrelevant. Minor spills are cleaned up by those who create them, we are um, talking about a major spill here. Remember?

or are not properly equipped to deal with serious spills (regional councils).

Again, as Brian states (and Idiot ignores) regional councils aren’t supposed to be equipped to deal with serious spills.

Equipment needed to deal with severe spills is stranded in Auckland and takes significant effort to transport.

What a stupid idea, putting the equipment where it’s most likey to be needed!

The result is that they are effectively helpless when a big incident comes along.

Well, when a big incident comes a long in the wrong place it’s going to take some more organisation to get the spill cleaned up. But listening to the people who actually know what they’re talking about these things always take time and our response has actually been pretty fast.

Which in turn make the government’s plans to allow deep-sea drilling, with all the risks that that entails, pure madness.

I’m pretty sure that when someone saw the first plane crash back in 1903 or something, they declared that flying was pure madness too. But we move on and learn from every disaster, and today air travel is safer than it’s ever been and has made the world a much smaller (and one would suggest better) place.

As for the public, as we saw on Monday morning when oil began washing up and was left to locals to clean up (with no warning or guidance from officials, let alone organisation or reassurance that something would be done soon), the government’s communication has been… lacking.

Yea, outside of all those warning to stay off the beach, and reports about how the cleanup would begin when the slick proper hit the beaches, all the warnings about how toxic the oil… why, there’s been nothing at all!

Wait, could it be that people have just been pigheaded and short sighted at the first sign of oil on “their” beaches? No, it must be The Fault of the Government.

I hope the above sounds mad. Because I am mad when someone lies like that. The fact is that officials did give both warnings and guidance. People refused to listen. The government was very clear – this is a big job, handling a large, toxic mess which has only just started. But people got so panicked at the sight of small amounts of oil on the beaches that they lost sight of the fact that oil was going to be there for weeks to come. 

But there are other things we can do too. For example, its hard to understand how a ship can run aground on a charted reef in calm weather, unless the crew were negligent.

So we should tell every ship’s captain we meet to be careful.

The ship’s captain has already been charged with operating a ship in a dangerous manner, and the penalties there are appropriate for individuals. But clearly there’s a regulatory problem here as well. There are also issues around penalties for spills – the Maritime Act allows for a fine of up to $200,000 for a discharge of a harmful substance from a ship, while the RMA allows for fines of up to $600,000 for discharging contaminants without a resource consent, with strict liability. But that’s SFA to a shipping corporation,

Well, it’s not a trivial sum. But I agree that the maximum fine for this sort of thing needs to be drastically upgraded for large incidents like this.

and likely to be lower than the cost of running a ship safely so that it does not leak oil everywhere.

If you recall, Idiot once said that airlines would fly their planes in dangerous conditions deliberately because, heck, they were insured if they crashed.

He doesn’t seem to get the idea that companies lose money when stuff like this happens, that their reputations suffer and the lose profits because they aren’t delivering cargo. Let’s face it: even the most profit hungry and well insured shipping company in the world would never suggest that a ships captain take a shortcut over the location of a known reef.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that this ship isn’t leaking oil because it wasn’t maintained, or because costs were cut, it’s leaking oil because some idiot drove into a well marked reef. The cost difference in running a ship that runs into a reef and one that doesn’t is zero – a turn of the ships wheel.

So we need far better regulation of shipping, and far higher penalties for breaches, with actual enforcement so that captains and companies know they will face those penalties. Anything less is just inviting this to happen again.

Sadly, none of that changes one simple fact – sometimes people are stupid.

You could have a thousand regulations designed to stop ship’s captains from steering their vessels into the only reef in the harbour, but one day, someone is just going to not bother looking where he’s going.


New ways to make the world a better place are being thought up every minute

…and occasionally some of them actually fulfil their goals.

These wont.

Then we take Auckland? The Occupy Wall Street movement seems to have spawned its own local imitators. First, we have Occupy Auckland, which is planning to occupy Aotea Square starting from Saturday. Then we have Occupy Wellington, which is planning to do the same to Civic Square and then the Reserve Bank. Other protests are apparently planned for Hagley Park in Christchurchthe Octagon in Dunedin, as well as New Plymouth and Invercargill. So, if you want to protest against inequality and economic insecurity and for greater democracy, then turn up, if only for a little while.

Please feel free to sit in the Octagon or Hagley park. Perhaps while you’re there you could abuse a passing banker.

Once you are sufficiently cold, you can then head home, knowing that you have achieved something.

That is, you’ve made a person with common sense think you’re an idiot.

(See this is what you get when you start rejecting profits.

First, you start doing things that aren’t quite worth doing. Next, you do some things that are pretty useless. Finally, you just sit around getting your backside frozen and convince yourself you’ve just saved the world by making some sort of massive statement.

But like someone said, reality doesn’t care if you don’t believe in it.)

Ngram Viewer

Interesting how modern technology can refute some modern myths.

Like the idea some people seem to have that “born again” is some sort of weird movement that originates from the United States circa 1970.


We’re seeing a lot of policies like this recently…

Some Policies for election year

Thought I’d share my wisdom on the policy front.

Some thoughts.

Crime: Add into the justice system a “career criminal” classification, where someone who clearly has no interest in being a member of society is treated differently in the system to ordinary folks who happen to have committed a crime. For the high end, we currently have preventative detention, but this doesn’t cover the lower end where someone may have decided that petty crime is easier than working for a living. I don’t necessarily think that means such people should be locked up forever, but even that’s a better idea than letting them go simply to have to go to all the expense of putting them back inside.

(After I wrote the above I actually wondered if there is already something like this. Maybe there is?)

Treaty Issues: Decree that in 100 years, all land is returned to the local maori tribe. That way there’s no arguement of “insufficient compensation”. Token rents to start in 50 years, working up to full market rents. The time frame gives plenty of time to sort out the details in the meantime, and lets face it we’ll all be dead by then so who cares? It’s taken 150+ years to get into the current mess, so why are we in such a hurry to sort it out?

Health: Give people the option of having their public operation immediately, by the government loaning the money now rather than waiting until it’s available with the beneficiary paying the interest calculated (at govt rates) on that loan up front. So instead of taking a year to wait for funding to come available for a $10,000 operation, the patient can pay $400 (4%) to have it now.

In addition, separate out taxes for health into a separate levy. This can be discounted for people purchasing private health insurance at a rate which still leaves the public system better off.

Road Safety: Young people (under 25) have to have an endorsement on their licence in order to be allowed to drive a car over 1.5l engine size. Endorsement should be conditional on having done 100 hours of community service and good character references, and revoked if involved in any boy racer activities.

Also, rename the learner’s licence to learner’s permit. It’s not a licence. Even better, print it on an A4 size card.

Referendums: Bring the tough choices to the people. If people seriously want to mortgage their children’s future, then let them vote for that, if they want the government to live within it’s means, give the government a direct mandate to cut wasteful programs.

Social Welfare: Give a reasonably decent benefit for a mother with one child, with no or trivial increases for each subsequent child.

People who have a consistent policy of trashing state houses should be placed in spartan units with concrete walls and floors etc. Include under floor heating, but no carpet or anything that can be ruined by staining. Include a classroom to teach practical life skills every night.

Dude, you have bigger problems than cigarette butts

Mana insult recovery efforts? What say you?

Hear this this one recent morning.

“You know, given how the situation here in Christchurch and how often the people living on the good side of Christchurch have been getting services while the people on the poorer side, who are often Maori, are still to a large degree being ignored.”

When I heard that, I thought that it was referring to the earthquake recovery efforts.

Were that the case, it would be idiotic thing to say. It was the east side of the city that had (and still has) the disruptions. It’s also had massive efforts put in place by both government and volunteers to fix it. To suggest that one one was helping is a massive slap in the face of hundreds of people who willingly gave both time and money, simply because helping people was the right thing to do.

But then I listen to the report again and I’m not so sure. In the wider context he seems to be talking about lack of schools and doctors etc.

What say you?

Spoilt Brat Comment of the Day – Celebrity Edition

See also, Political Edition.

We have a serious problem with narcissism in our society (he said, pontificating on his blog).

She explained: “I was feeling a little self-conscious about the acting thing with my peers, but also my teachers became a problem. They didn’t want to do the extra work or put packages together so I could keep up while I was away.

They failed me. My teachers failed me. Not one but all of them.

Um, so let me get this straight.

You failed to turn up to school, because you were out earning millions (one assumes) of dollars making stupid teenage vampire moves.

And you blame your teachers, because they didn’t do the extra work you wanted them to do so that you could keep up, in spite of our absence.

Now, had you paid them that would be different. You were earning megga bucks, and it would only be fair to compensate them for their extra work. But you don’t mention that, and I somehow think that you would if you had paid them and they did nothing – that would only be fair.

But don’t you see that asking a teacher to do extra work, for no reward, for an ungrateful millionaire brat might be asking a little too much? Especially given that your teachers had students who actually turned up to class and weren’t being handed millions of dollars for a few months work?

Clearly not.

My mind is made up – I’m voting for change

Saw this debate on Breakfast the other day, and it certainly made up my mind on MMP.

It featured Lewis Holden from the Campaign For MMP and Jordan Williams from Vote for Change.

In short Holden…

  • Interrupted Williams’ opening salvo, after Williams gave Holden an uninterrupted opening spiel. Not only that, he basically called him a liar.
  • Interrupted again
  • Misrepresented the debate as one of parliament dominated by national and Labour vs. one with minor parties in it.
  • Belittled Williams as he was trying to explain Labour’s position
Williams’ tone was consistently earnest and made good logical points. His opponent, on the other hand, clearly thinks the public will be won over by abusing his opponent and pretending that Helen Clark never existed.
No contest.

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