Monday, May 28, 2018

NZDF has a culture of deceit

Six months ago, we learned that a toxic firefighting foam used by NZDF may have contaminated water supplies near its bases. Over that time, there's been a few stories suggesting that NZDF may not have been honest with us about the problem. But now, according to Radio New Zealand, it appears that they have been lying systematically to the New Zealand public:

Documents about the nationwide firefighting foam contamination investigation show the Defence Force told the public one thing, but said something different in internal reports.
  • Defence told the public the foam that it is still using, does not contain a banned chemical.
  • But it told its own consultants that it did contain this chemical, called PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid.
  • It told the public its investigation was only about "historical" contamination that occurred before 2002.
  • But it told its consultants to look at historical and "current" contamination.
The documents released to RNZ under the Official Information Act include internal reports on contamination investigations in Auckland and Manawatū.
The details in that report are stunning, and show calculated deceit in NZDF's public communications, clearly intended to minimise their exposure. Which all seems familiar. In the Hit & Run saga NZDF has been caught lying multiple times, even deceiving their Minister. This is an institution which appers to have an entrenched culture of deceit. And while Ministers may excuse it when soldiers are deployed and lives are on the line, this is not that sort of case. Instead, it is purely about reputation and legal liability. And where that's the case, I think the expectation of the New Zealand public is that government agencies behave honestly, rather than trying to bullshit and weasel us.

NZDF needs to come clean with us about what they've done, how much of our water they've poisoned, and whether they're still doing it. And they need to admit responsibility and compensate their victims. Finally, those who have been lying to us about this need to be fired, because they clearly lack the integrity required to work for a government agency.