The government has moved in swiftly, by bringing defence forces in, to ameliorate the mini-crisis situation in Auckland airport due to damage of fuel pipeline from Marsden point to Auckland airport.
The pipeline was damaged last Thursday, September 14, and reported publically on Sunday, September 17.
Since then many flights to, and from, Auckland, has been delayed causing distress to many travellers who complained of the absence of compassion in the responses they have been getting from airlines and Auckland airport authorities.
Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said today that the Defence Force and government agencies are stepping up to help minimize disruption resulting from the Marsden Point pipeline being out of action.
“The nature of the damage means repair isn’t quick and the work has to be done very carefully. But if any additional personnel or expertise from the Defence Force can speed the work up in any way then they’ll be made available.
“To free up industry resources to focus upon Auckland Airport, the Defence Force will be using the naval tanker HMNZS Endeavour to move diesel fuel from Marsden Point to other parts of the country.
“The Defence Force will also be providing up to 20 additional tanker drivers to assist local operators in managing their increased workload, cancelling a major exercise with Singapore to preserve fuel, deferring non-essential training and it’s also investigating options around refuelling smaller commuter aircraft at Whenuapai Airforce Base,” Ms Collins said.
Given the time of this mini-crisis, just a week before the election, with all polls suggesting that it is going to be most keenly contested elections in recent public memory, it is very crucial for the government to be seen doing everything under their control to sway public opinion.
The Labour Party has already tried to corner the National Party over the fuel crisis with the allegation of National’s failure in securing fuel supply for the airport.
“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,” Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern had said.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Bill English was grilled by Mike Hosking in Newstalk ZB Leaders' Breakfast series on this issue.