You can see it manifesting in all manner of economic activities. Whether it is fisheries or construction, mining or farming, our attitudes to the necessary regulatory framework of laws, policies and practices, needs much work. And as we try to address the problems caused, it is be coming clear that many segments of New Zealand society are going through the motions s of pretending to want change but are not serious about voting accordingly.
I am trying to understand the mindset of these people. As much so that I can honestly debate them, but also because I wonder how well formed their ideas are in the first place. Maybe they are disgruntled and don’t see anything beyond the Labour-National duopoly interspersed with New Zealand First. Maybe the neoliberal argument of not having a regulatory framework that protects workers has bitten them and the whole concept of is “red tape”. Maybe they simply believe the message they like the most, irrespective of how true or proper it is.
Whatever the case, one thing is very clear. Where this attitude is prevalent, behind it some dark cases of massive injustice exist. One only has to look at the Oyang fishing trawlers that have docked at Lyttelton over the years and recall the tragic, criminal and negligent events that went on on Oyang 70, 75 and 77 trawlers. What about the boat that sank off the Kaikoura coast that could not take more than 5 tons of fish and somehow managed to have 20+? Only when the fishing cameras that the Minister for Regional Development has tried to stop being installed on vessels, will we know who is doing (or not doing)what.
What about the people at the liquor stores whose owners have been the subject of action because they systematically underpaid their staff by the tune of tens of thousands of dollars? Whilst I am pleased that these cases have had considerable media time, I am sure that there are plenty of liquor stores around the country where the owner somehow thinks they are not subject to New Zealand law and that the non-New Zealanders working there have no rights. Only when there is a law change that bars the guilty parties from being owners and/or operators again will the message to potential offenders be strong enough to have effect.
More than nine years after the Pike River Mine blew up, how many of the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry have been implemented? And how many are still to be implemented? The R.C.I. found that negligence was widespread. Methane detectors that were meant to warn of dangerous concentrations in the mine were not working. The Chief Executive, Peter Whittall who went from being the public face with massive national respect for how he appeared to handle the situation, has left New Zealand and gone to Australia. The mothers/husbands of the dead men might be going to get their loved ones back, but for me the real measure of justice will be making sure that they are the last people in New Zealand to die in a mine explosion.
But for me the worst is the Canterbury Television Building disaster. On a truly black day in New Zealand history, the primary source of fatalities on 22 February 2011 was a collapsed building that should not have been occupied on the day that the earthquake hit. At the very latest, it should have been evacuated and red stickered immediately following the Boxing Day aftershock. The Royal Commission of Inquiry found numerous failings into the building design, the approval of the design, its construction and the sequence of events that lead to a building not fit for purpose, being open for business on that day. Similarly the P.G.C. building which also fatally collapsed that day killing 18 people was not fit for occupancy. We cannot claim to be a first world nation when we do not provide an adequately safe built working environment.
How much longer are we going to let this toxic “She’ll be right” attitude pervade New Zealand society? And who will be the next person or group to suffer for our slackness?