Resources for the poor, eastern Christchurch suburbs have been lacking but everyone accepts things are stretched. Key did himself no favours trying to PR paper over real cracks. Helicoptering in to Bexley, talking to some hand-picked locals, and making excuses the whole time didn’t look good.
For instance, portaloos have only recently arrived in suburbs like Avonside and there is only one per 100 people without water. We can accept there are only so many portaloos in the country and it takes time to get more, although we may be surprised that Civil Defence and the Army don’t have stockpiles of them and chemical toilets. But when Key says ‘look resources had to be devoted to the rescue effort first’ he’s treating us like idiots. The search and rescue teams are not the same people who supply and maintain portaloos, so why try to trick us?
‘I have no doubt that Civil Defence, the Army, Police, the Red Cross, Social Development, the Student Volunteer Army, Beyond Resistance, the local MPs Brendon Burns and Lianne Dalziel and the LECs, and all the other civil society groups are doing all they can and doing tremendous work. But it’s equally clear that there needed more preparation and resources for an urban population in the tens of thousands cut off from utilities after a disaster.’
That’s all Key needed to say. All he needed to do was acknowledge the validity of people’s complaints and commit to improvements, rather than making implausible excuses.