Joyce caught lying about Rena

Last night Steven Joyce was caught out lying about whether the Green Party had requested a briefing from him about the status of the reefed ship Rena and the environmental situation in Tauranga.

On Close Up last night, Joyce vehemently denied that any opposition party had approached his office asking for a briefing. Here is the transcript (and the video. Joyce starts speaking from 3:30)

MS: Have you done everything you can? You have emergency powers that you can bring into play, have you used those? Have you done everything you can? Because the opposition are saying ‘Here’s the Government happy to step in when it’s the World Cup, what’re they doing about an environmental disaster?’
SJ: Well actually I have no time for the opposition in this regard. I have not had a single request of my office or of the ministry for any briefing from any opposition politician whatsoever. They’ve just gone out there and taken positions without knowing anything about any of the facts. So I would respect them…
MS: Putting aside the fact…
SJ: No, No. I would have respect for them if they came to me and said ‘look, here’s the thing minister, we’re very keen to get the information and then we’ll be in a position to offer an opinion’. And I think that’s very important.
MS: Putting aside the opposition, you have these powers. They’re saying you, you haven’t used those, you’re willing to in other circumstances. Is that a fair cop?
SJ: No. It’s not a fair cop at all. They’re entirely different situations.

Problem is that my office did contact his office yesterday morning.

Emails here [PDF] show that my office first emailed at 10:10 AM yesterday and Joyce’s office replied at 12:41PM.

My office then called our contact in Joyce’s office at 3PM to confirm that Russel Norman would be in Tauranga and wanted to meet with the Minister as well.

Joyce’s Close Up interview was pre-recorded at 4:45PM.

Interestingly Joyce’s office contacted my office again just before 5PM to formalise a point of contact who would be in Tauranga from today.

If Joyce is willing to be liberal with the truth about something like whether the Green Party had contacted his office it makes me wonder about what else he is lying about and whether we can trust anything he says about the clean-up.

33 thoughts on “Joyce caught lying about Rena

  1. Key lies about Standard & Poors downgrade warning. Joyce lies about Rena briefing request. Must be contagious.

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  2. Looks like the email went from EA to EA/Assistant. Isn’t it possible that one of these secretaries/assistants forgot to tell Joyce that a briefing was requested?

    I mean it’s not like it was a question in the House where prior notice was given, it was (presumably) a question without notice, where Joyce didn’t know to ask his officials for a briefing.

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  3. @Josh 12:09 PM

    Yes, that is possible. But it is still lying to state “I have not had a single request of my office or of the ministry for any briefing from any opposition politician” if he didn’t know whether he had had one or not.

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  4. @Josh: Joyce is responsible for his office and all requests for briefings from any ministry have to be approved by the man himself. It is highly unlikely that he did not know before the interview that Gareth had contacted his office.

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  5. Joyce is the one who made the statement that he had not been contacted. He volunteered that information and stated it as fact.

    Of course it’s possible that he didn’t get told about the contact from the Greens, but then he surely should have asked about it if that was going to be his response to opposition criticism raised during the interview.

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  6. As always Toad @ 12:13 PM, you’re right!

    I requested the full inventory of the MV Rena from MNZ under the OIA a couple of days ago, after it was reported they held this information… they haven’t even acknowledged my request. I can understand that they’re busy at the moment, but this is important. We need to know what Hazardous substances the Rena is carrying?

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  7. Joyce was caught napping about the spill and when we criticized him for it he decided attack is the best form of defence. He didn’t have to claim in the interview that we had never asked for a briefing, so he has no excuses for not knowing what his Ministerial office was doing. He would do better to focus on his job (yes I know it’s not a motorway but it’s important).

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  8. Toad says “Key lies about Standard & Poors downgrade warning. Joyce lies about Rena briefing request. Must be contagious.”

    Must be – another example is Sue Kedgley’s fabrication about Key refusing radio interviews 174 times.

    But this is all very anal Gareth.

    We’ve got what is possibly the worst ernvironnetal distaster in our history, and you’re prime concern here is trying to score petty points over a “he said / she said” arguement about whether or not someone asked for some information.

    If this is your biggest concern right now, it makes you look like your priorities are screwed up.

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  9. What planet are you on Todd/ Jackal?

    You really think it’s “important” that someone in Maritime NZ should stop working on the spill so they can provide individual members of the public with detailed freight lists for tens of thousands of tonnes of freight.

    Similarly minors parties emailing the minister asking for information is hardly going to even register on the radar under the current circumstances.

    It’s like some parallel universe here where minor requests by people with no involvement in the cleanup are elevated to greater importance than a major environmental disaster.

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  10. Working on the oil spill?

    A RNZ report entitled Hundreds more tonnes of fuel spill from stricken ship from a few minutes ago:

    Inflatable barge company offered help

    A manufacturer of inflatable oil recovery barges says he could have recovered most if not all of the oil from the Rena, but Maritime New Zealand never responded to his offer for help.

    Ronald Winstone from Lancer Industries in Auckland says the 100-tonne barges the company supplies to 30 countries would have been ideal to get into place quickly before the weather turned bad.

    Mr Winton says the barges are inflatable and can rest alongside stranded ships even in two-metre swells.

    He says he offered Maritime New Zealand the use of two of his barges to add to the two it already owns, but received no response.

    Shameful!

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  11. @photonz1 5:06 PM

    Ah, the apologist for the do-nothing Government of Key and Joyce returns to make a “contribution” to the debate.

    Photonz1, if a vessel with the capability of offloading the oil from the Rena had been commandeered and sent to the scene within 24 hours of the grounding, the oil could have all been offloaded by Sunday before the bad weather set in.

    Reality check! Key and Joyce sat on their hands and hoped the private sector (i.e. the MV Rena owners) would resolve the problem. But the invisible hand Key and Joyce rely on failed to respond in a timely manner.

    The first reported Government involvement is here, almost 3 days after the grounding, when Joyce said “…the ship’s owners will have to meet the cost of the clean-up and salvage operation.”.

    But in the same report Maritime NZ’s on scene commander, Rob Service, is reported as saying:

    Mr Service says the bulk of the fuel on board the vessel is likely to be secure in tanks and it is very unlikely the entire amount of fuel on the vessel would spill.

    There has been big stuff-up here, and it will seriously impact on the Bay of Plenty environment and economy.

    Someone must be held accountable for that. Transport Minister Steven Joyce and Maritime NZ are the likely suspects.

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  12. ” …minors parties emailing the minister asking for information is hardly going to even register on the radar under the current circumstances.”

    The minister had time to snipe at the Green party, so it’s hard to understand why he didn’t have time to answer their request for information.

    It’s like he’s in some parallel universe where minor complaints about other politicians positions are elevated to greater importance than a major environmental disaster.

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  13. @ toad

    Under what law exactly can the government unilaterally comandeer private property? (and pause to remember your excitement over the govt not having lawful authority for video bugging before answering). Getting politicians involved in decision making is one of the worst things you need. What knowledge and expertise do they have that is in any way useful?

    And as for the guy offering barges, in an emergency all sorts of people emerge from the woodwork with great ideas and offers of help. Most are of no help at all. MNZ already own these barges so they could have deployed them if they thought them suitable.

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  14. insider 6:18 PM

    Try Maritime Transport Act, section 305, insider:

    305. Powers of on-scene commander
    (1) If a regional on-scene commander or the National On-Scene Commander decides that it is appropriate for a regional council or the Authority, as the case may be, to take action in respect of a marine oil spill, he or she may do all or any of the following:
    (a) direct the master or owner of any New Zealand ship, or the owner of any offshore installation, or the owner of any oil transfer site that is the subject of a marine oil spill response to do anything, or refrain from doing anything, that the on-scene commander considers necessary or desirable to control or clean up the marine oil spill, or both:
    (b) remove any person obstructing a marine oil spill response from an area, or any part of an area, where a marine oil spill response is being carried out:
    (c) require the evacuation or the exclusion of persons, vehicles, or New Zealand ships from any area, or any part of an area, where a marine oil spill response is being carried out:
    (d) totally or partially prohibit, or restrict, public access on any road or to any public area or any part of the sea, that is within an area where a marine oil spill response is being carried out:
    (e) remove from any road, public place, or from the sea, in an area where a marine oil spill response is being carried out, any New Zealand ship, any vehicle, or other thing impeding that response, and where reasonably necessary for the purpose, may enter forcibly any such ship, vehicle, or other thing:
    (f) carry out such inspections as he or she thinks appropriate in respect of any New Zealand ship, any vehicle, or other thing in an area where a marine oil spill response is being carried out:
    (g) subject to the provisions of section 306, require the owner or person for the time being in control of any land, building, vehicle, New Zealand ship, or any other real or personal property to place that property under his or her control and direction.

    (2) The powers under subsection (1) may be exercised by any on-scene commander, any person authorised by him or her, and any constable.

    (3) Nothing in subsection (1)(g) applies to any land, building, ship, vehicle, or other real or personal property under the control of the New Zealand Defence Force.

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  15. “Last night Steven Joyce was caught out lying about whether the Green Party had requested a briefing from him about the status of the reefed ship Rena and the environmental situation in Tauranga.”

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by…. etc etc

    So is it possible, maybe, that Steven Joyce just happens to be stupid?

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  16. Gareth should refrain from trying to score petty points over whether or not he asked for information, but should rather follow the example given by Steven Joyce. Quack.

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  17. The party line so far is that the process is being followed and that experts have to be brought in before any action is undertaken.

    I just want to know why inflatable barges were not used in the days of calm water and why there are no wool based booms there already just in case …

    I would have thought this would have been standard practice in any quick response to get oil off fast and contain the oil spill close to the ship.

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  18. @insider 6:18 PM:

    Um, no response to my 6:48 PM?

    @solkta 7:02 PM

    Yep, I’ll see your quack and raise it by two quacks.

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  19. Let’s hope the oil leaving the ship from the new leak is not from the tank they were transferring oil to earlier, we don’t want to lose faith in the process and the experts involved do we.

    Globally there is a street movement building to express lack of confidfence in the process and the experts who promoted the economic system that has developed – that we should trust the market to work and await trickle down to reduce poverty

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  20. @toad

    Sorry I wasn’t here for an instant response :-/ try reading the law again – you’ve seriously overestimated the powers, given you wanted to commandeer a vessel that is NOT the subject of a response (hint the law is only applicable to vessels that ARE)

    @ spc

    I think Wool booms are for small sopping up exercises such as in streams or on roads etc Not for heavy oil on coastlines with waves. A shovel is better. As for inflatable barges -ok imagine you have them there, what else are you going to need to make use of them? Were they available? If not, you have just wasted time and effort on white elephants.

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  21. I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere who’s going to pay for the cleanup. If it’s the taxpayer, I think the Greens have got a conclusive argument against offshore drilling.

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  22. The party line so far is that the process is being followed and that experts have to be brought in before any action is undertaken. I just want to know why inflatable barges were not used in the days of calm water and why there are no wool based booms there already just in case …

    I couldn’t say what is the most appropriate action here, but I guess in the days and weeks to come it’ll be a valid question to ask if the response could have been improved, in the absence of experts being available on the scene immediately (because how reasonable is that??), by having a better immediate response plan in place beforehand to cover this kind of scenario.

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  23. @insider 8:35 PM

    So what does “subject” mean there? Surely it is wider than “perpetrator”?

    Maybe your interpretation is too narrow. Maybe mine is too wide.

    But in an emergency like this, I would suggest the Government should act to protect the environment. If it results in the Government being successfully sued because of issues of legal interpretation later, then so be it. The cost to the country is much less.

    That said, if the law is not clear, it needs to be changed to ensure Maritime NZ has the power to do whatever is necessary to deal with a potential disaster of this magnitude – including commandeering private vessels.

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  24. This was posted on the thread earlier insider

    Inflatable barge company offered help

    A manufacturer of inflatable oil recovery barges says he could have recovered most if not all of the oil from the Rena, but Maritime New Zealand never responded to his offer for help.

    Ronald Winstone from Lancer Industries in Auckland says the 100-tonne barges the company supplies to 30 countries would have been ideal to get into place quickly before the weather turned bad.

    Mr Winton says the barges are inflatable and can rest alongside stranded ships even in two-metre swells.

    He says he offered Maritime New Zealand the use of two of his barges to add to the two it already owns, but received no response.

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  25. As for wool based booms they are made here and exported around the world – they were used in the Gulf (post liberation of Kuwait).

    They soak up oil, so they work in all conditions (whereas booms that do not are dependent on sea and tidal conditions) – to say that preventing oil from reaching land is less effective than shovels is total rubbish.

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  26. @insider 8:35 PM

    And reading that section again, insider, look where the commas lie.

    Play arguments over the Oxford comma if you like, but I think it is clear that the first two phrases in s305(1)(a)are disjunctive from the condition attached to the third phrase relating to owners of oil transfer sites.

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  27. @spc

    He offered them but also said they already had them in the main spill response cache in auckland, so you would have expected mnz to know their capability and suitability. But just cos you have a barge doesn’t mean you have the pumps and hoses and staff needed to operate them, hence the white elephant

    Re wool pads, heavy fuel oil is like tar so thats nota very easily absorbed into them but more coats them – thats why it collects as globules that can be shoveled up. Hfo also can float under the water so surface booms like wool may not be effective. They are much more effective against lighter residues. You also have a big waste stream with these booms which is another problem. Manual clean up is the preferred approach in many situations.

    @toad

    It’s section g I think is the bit you want. We missed tqhe wood for the trees, and I was wrong sorry.

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  28. If they had two of the inflatable barges they surely would have had pumps and hoses with them – the only question was getting staff to Tauranga by the weekend.

    Manual cleanup is not the preferred option for the estuary area – if it gets in there and attaches to rocks etc it’s not a matter of shovels on the beach at all. Even with under water hfo can be mopped up before it hits the beach

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  29. SPC says “They soak up oil, so they work in all conditions” (wool booms)

    No – not all conditions. The guy on tv tonight said the heavy oil on the Rena doesn’t float but has a similar specific gravity to water. So the vast majority becomes suspended in the water, meaning booms (of any type) make little difference except for oil on the surface, which is only a very small percentage.

    As for inflatable barges – not sure why they weren’t used, but a possible reason….. The oil that needed to be removed first was at the front of the vessel i.e. the part that is on top of the reef. Mooring inflatable barges full of oil directly over the reef that caused the problem in the first place is possibly a little risky.

    My understanding is that they are moving oil to the rear of the ship where it is over deeper water. But they need to heat the oil for a couple of days before it can be pumped, and this can’t be done until they get people back onto the ship and get power going again.

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  30. @ spc

    You’d think they might but these barges are often used for skimming so perhaps not. One other problem is that we are talking about hfo – it is like tar. It needs to be heated to make it easily mobile and that facility may not have been available. In an oil terminal they have pre heaters on the tanks, on a ship they are on the fuel lines leading to the engines, but they might not be on the bunkering line allowing reverse pumping – I just don’t know – but It’s not like filling your car or siphoning your fuel tank, and we have very limited experience with ship to ship transfers in open water in nz, even under controlled circumstances.

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  31. Or it could be that the Greens are not really the ‘opposition’, the Labour party are. Other than arm chair experts who clearly don’t know much I see little of value that the Greens have added other than whining. How about defending your support for coastal shipping? Not much on that subject eh?

    Bob

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  32. I have two questions about this whole horrific situation.

    One, did the current government cut crucial maritime safety and environmental protection agency personnel and response capacity within the public sector that contributed to this crisis?

    Two, why didn’t they have a contingency plan? Why was there such a protracted period before initial response to this crisis? Why didn’t they prepare a prior contingency study for an issue of this magnitude, especially after the BP oil spill catastrophe off Louisiana?

    Give ‘em hell over this, folks. They deserve it given what appears to be sheer negligence when it comes to maritime environmental risk policies.

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  33. I suppose a related environmental risk management question is whether the Astrolabe Reef was adequately signposted as a possible navigation hazard? And are there any *other* major maritime navigational hazards that aren’t similarly signposted? Is this on the government’s list of environmental and/or maritime priority policies? If not, why not?

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