Maritime New Zealand Underfunded
Proper governance should involve maintaining a high degree of future planning and defining priorities based on evidence and good advice. A government must also make sure that they maintain a strong sense of purpose that will not be swayed by a myriad of of lobbyists, who will all claim their particular interests deserve the most attention.
I have already described the issues around the liberalised regulations controlling our coastal shipping and serious concerns were raised by Laila Harre as far back as 1997. One would think that given the dodgy state of many of our coastal ships, often with crews employed on minimum wages, that the potential for disaster must be increased. The damage caused by the Rena must surely have been predicted as a possibility, given the incidents that have occurred internationally, and yet the funding for Maritime New Zealand has been frozen on a paltry $5.7 million.
I would have to question the logic of this National Government, as well as the previous Labour Government, when considering the real threats to this country. More is spent on the SIS, who in 2008 had a budget of $38.1 million, to protect us from terrorists. The SIS have had a lengthy history of incompetence with Ahmed Zaoui proving to be unjustifiably labeled as a terrorist threat and any substantial act of terrorism or espionage (Rainbow Warrior, Mossad passport theft) were missed completely.
The New Zealand Air Force managed to get over $300 million to update their Orion aircraft ostensibly to improve surveillance of our territorial waters. Through reading Nicky Hager's book it becomes apparent that the real reason was to make them compatible with British and United States forces and allowed them to directly support the war in Iraq. I have since been told that satellites are far more cost effective (and generally just more effective) than an Orion for surveillance off our shores.
I strongly support Russel Norman's call for a Royal Commission review on the management of the Rena disaster and I think any future government needs a serious rethink about where our priorities should be as regards protecting our shores and invest accordingly. Our current defense spending is based on ideological ghosts and misinformation, not on realities.