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Government drags chain on ship insurance problem

Government drags chain on ship insurance problem

Nick Smith - National Environment Spokesperson

Taxpayers and ratepayers are carrying huge financial risks for pollution and clean-up costs of stranded ships because of delays by Government in passing new laws requiring insurance, says National’s Environment spokesperson Nick Smith.

“The potential liabilities of a stranded vessel like the Jody F Millennium or Tai Ping can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. These costs must not fall on the taxpayer or ratepayer.

“New Zealand must follow Australia and the United States by requiring all vessels entering New Zealand waters to have insurance for any clean-up costs or liabilities arising from a stranding or sinking.”

In May last year, Dr Smith tabled the Ocean and Coastal Protection (Compulsory Third Party Insurance) Bill.

“The Government in May, and this week, has blocked the Bill’s introduction saying the change can be made within regulations under the existing Maritime Transport Act.

“The Government said in February, at the time of the Jody F Millennium stranding, it would make this change as quickly as possible but nothing has happened. It now says the change will not be put into effect until the end of next year. This is pathetic. Every month’s delay is another month the taxpayer and ratepayer face the risk.

“This change has the strong support of port companies, the fishing and the shipping industries and environmentalists. National will be pressuring the Minister to get on and do this by Christmas,” says Dr Smith.

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