Unfair to blame govt but rupture adds fuel to fire
A continuing and deepening fuel crisis has been an unwelcome development for the government, coming as it has just days before the closest election for years.
Thousands of airline passengers have had their flights cancelled or delayed by the rupture to the 168 kilometre pipeline from Marsden Point to Auckland which is not expected to be fully repaired and operational again until the middle of next week.
Whoever was operating the digger believed to be the cause of the rupture would be well advised to take cover from hordes of angry passengers, oil companies and the government.
The Opposition has not been slow to blame the government, which is actually unfair. Refining New Zealand was formed in the 1980s by the fourth Labour government in its madcap drive for privatisation that still leaves its marks on the country.
But there is sometimes no justice in politics and there is no doubt that the debacle has hurt the government, which has tried to position itself as one that can offer stability and good management.
Most independent observers believe that the cost of a second pipeline from Marsden Point would be too prohibitive, but that begs the question why the company did not take the obvious step of increasing storage at Auckland.
The government has done its best to respond, bringing in Judith ‘Crusher’ Collins for some firm action while an old opponent, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, has offered to make bus lanes available to speed the movement of fuel tankers into the city.
Just how much harm the situation has done to the government will probably not be known until Saturday night but it certainly has not done any good.
It probably puts an extra edge on tonight’s final leaders’ debate, which in some ways has Jacinda Ardern like a boxer who is well ahead on points going in to the final round and merely having to see it out to win.
Ardern will not want to do that, however. She is smarting from the attacks made on her at the contrived Morrinsville dairy farmers protest. Expect her to come out swinging.