18 Oct 2011

Compensation for businesses may not be needed - PM

6:20 pm on 18 October 2011

Prime Minister John Key says a compensation package for businesses affected by a stricken ship off Tauranga may not be necessary if the problem is resolved by Christmas.

The Rena was heading towards Tauranga from Napier when it hit Astrolabe Reef on 5 October carrying 1700 tonnes of fuel and more than 1300 containers. At least 350 tonnes of oil has spilled into the ocean, polluting beaches in the Bay of Plenty.

Mr Key met the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday and identified about 100 businesses threatened by the disaster.

He told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme that, while some companies may require government assistance, no business has yet made a formal request for compensation.

Mr Key says it is likely that affected companies will suffer badly if the disaster is not resolved by the time school holidays begin in late December.

Fishing companies whose catch quotas have been affected by the exclusion zone around the Rena have asked if their quotas could be rolled over to next year or sold back to the Government, he says.

The Prime Minister says the clean-up operation has already cost $4 million.