Written By: James Dann - Date published: 9:53 am, June 28th, 2014 - 26 comments
Categories: christchurch earthquake, john key, labour, national - Tags: christchurch, earthquake, gerry brownlee, rebuild, recovery
Various excepts of John Key’s hagiography have been doing the rounds in recent days, in the lead up to it’s release. There was one line that particularly stuck out for me, as a Cantabrian and South Islander:
His problems continued to mount during 2012 – the most difficult year he has faced during the 12 years the former investment banker and money trader has been in Parliament.
Woah, what? 2012 was his most difficult year? Has he been totally asleep at the wheel? In case he has forgotten, here’s a recap:
The events listed about all happened in just over 6 months. The biggest natural disaster in New Zealand in living memory. The biggest workplace accident in years. You would think that a leader would wear those incidents, that they would have some impact. Apparently not. For Key, his dark place was a series of poorly received and poorly executed policies – Novopay, class sizes, the Sky City deal, the cup of tea with John Banks. Not insignificant issues, but seemingly trivial compared to the destruction and subsequently shambolic recovery of New Zealand’s second city.
This is from a speech Key gave the day after the February quake. I quote it often, because it shows that what was promised and what has been delivered are two entirely different things:
On behalf of the Government, let me be clear that no one will be left to walk this journey alone. New Zealand will walk this journey with you. We will be there every step of the way. Christchurch; this is not your test, this is New Zealand’s test. I promise we will meet this test.
For so many of the people in this still-broken city, they feel that this is a journey which they have been left to walk alone. More than that, it is a journey which they are walking alone, into a howling headwind of government bureaucracy and ineptitude. Too often they find themselves fighting against the state, rather than working with them. One gets the impression that for all the visits and photo ops, Key just doesn’t get the situation down here. Last year, when the Quake Outcasts group won a judicial review against the Government’s red zone offer, Key made this flippant remark:
One option is the Government says: ‘Thanks very much, it’s been a lot of fun. If you don’t want to take the offer, that’s where it’s at’.
For people having to take the Crown to court, there has been nothing fun about this. And yet their struggle continues. On Monday, Labour announced that we would pay these people 100% of the 2007 value of their properties. We think that it is only fair. Brownlee was out immediately to muddy the waters with misinformation, and called it reckless. We think that a Minister who is bowling over a swimming pool to build a $30m playground should think twice before describing things as reckless.
I’m proud of the Kickstarting the Recovery package of policies which Labour is currently rolling out in Christchurch. We’re making it clear that if people want to be treated with respect, fairness, and care, that Labour is the party to choose. We’re making it clear that while Key and National may have failed to keep their promise to the people of Christchurch, Labour can and will rise to the challenge.