Export freight is being shifted off flights because of the Government’s failure to manage the risk of disruption to jet fuel supplies, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson Stuart Nash.
“It has been revealed to Labour that non-perishable export freight is being removed from flights to lighten the load because of the jet fuel crisis, and workers are turning up to work at Auckland Airport and finding their shifts cancelled.
“We understand that workers for foreign airlines, who don’t enjoy the same level of benefits as those contracted to Air New Zealand, are especially affected.
“Rosters are changing, crews are being turned away. Yet nothing has been said by the Government to make sure these workers are being looked after. They still have bills to pay too, Bill.
“The role of any Government is to know the risks, and prepare for them. We have clear evidence that this Government discussed the risks in a 2012 Cabinet Paper, and chose to tinker instead of building genuine resilience into the supply network.
“This is the 21st century and in a modern country a digger driver shouldn’t have such a serious impact on our national economy. This is a failure of leadership and management by National.
“There are serious questions of the Government’s handling that remain unanswered.
“We’re aware that freight is being removed from flights. How much, and what is the Government doing to mitigate the potential losses for our exporters?
“What will be done to support workers who find their shifts have been cancelled or curtailed?
“If the damage was known last Thursday, why did it take three days for it to become known, so our businesses, travellers and freight companies could better prepare for the impact?
“And if National really is the party of infrastructure, how could they sit back in full knowledge of the risks of disruption to the fuel supply without planning for better storage of fuel reserves?
“The answer is that the Government doesn’t have the answers. They’ve been caught out, and it’s our exporters, travellers, businesses who’ve been harmed, and New Zealand’s reputation along with it,” says Stuart Nash.