Thousands of air travellers looking for answers to Auckland Airport’s fuel crisis should be demanding the National Government come clean over its failure to secure fuel supply for the airport, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.
“There are serious questions the Government must answer over how prepared it was for the rupture of the pipeline which is such a vital piece of infrastructure.
“The Government has known for years that there were risks to the security of supply of fuel into Auckland, and particularly jet fuel to Auckland Airport. And they have only got worse as the city grows and air traffic expands.
“One option raised by Air New Zealand in 2012 was for additional jet fuel storage to be built at the Wiri terminal. It urged the Government to help establish a new fuel storage facility in west Auckland with Wiri turned into a dedicated jet fuel storage facility.
“In a submission to an official review Air New Zealand said storage capacity for jet fuel at Wiri and the airport was ‘modest’.
“In a Cabinet paper from 2012 Ministry officials advised the Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges that ‘such a terminal would improve the resilience of Auckland’s fuel supply chain, but would involve large capital investment – our consultants estimated an upfront cost of $57m.’
“Cabinet instead agreed to a mishmash of minor initiatives – among them; an oil contingency handbook, a working group of industry and officials to look at fuel security issues, allowing higher weight trucks to travel on roads, and a review of information on oil stocks. None of this cost the Government anything.
“This was a totally short-sighted response. The Government needed to place a much higher priority on building resilience in the industry to withstand the shocks we are seeing today.
“This was an opportunity to show leadership, and genuinely invest in New Zealand's infrastructure. Instead New Zealand businesses and travellers have been badly let down.
"We just can't afford to cut corners on infrastructure - and yet we have seen National take this approach on others issues too. They have failed to invest adequately in Auckland’s transport infrastructure, dragged the chain on the city’s Central Rail Link while running down our public infrastructure such as hospitals and schools.
“We need to make securing Auckland’s fuel supply a priority, and that means making the investments necessary so that business, exporters and travellers are not exposed again,” says Jacinda Ardern.