Gerry Brownlee chucks toys out of cot on Nine to Noon

Written By: - Date published: 11:31 am, May 28th, 2014 - 52 comments
Categories: Gerry Brownlee - Tags: ,

This morning on Morning Report there has been the development of a story concerning asbestos exposure in Christchurch. The issue is an important one. The earthquakes and subsequent of demolition of numerous buildings have almost inevitably caused the release of asbestos into the environment. The substance is a potential killer and anyone who has a family member who has suffered from Mesothilomia can testify how dangerous the substance is.

The issue is a current one because Worksafe is investigating the way that Fletcher EQC handles any asbestos that it finds in houses.  An unnamed subcontractor to Fletcher said this morning that as many as 60,000 people may have been exposed or are currently being exposed to lethal asbestos fibres.

Matters must be of concern.  Worksafe has investigated four cases and taken no further action but a fifth case is the subject of a court application for an extension of time so that its investigations can continue.

The story is obviously one that in the public interest a free and independent media would investigate.

This morning on Nine to Noon Kathryn Ryan interviewed Graham Darlow from Fletcher Building on the topic.  Specifically she asked questions concerning a possible public register recording where asbestos had been discovered.  The interview was informative and Kathryn Ryan was her usual professional self.  The description of the interview said “Nine to Noon has been told that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is leading a multiagency group – including the Earthquake Commission, Fletcher Construction’s EQR and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – to try to identify which houses may have have had a high risk of containing asbestos and thereby quantify how many people may have been exposed.”

Part way through something unusual happened.  Gerry Brownlee was brought into the discussion and then proceeded to throw his toys out of the cot.  He became that belligerent that Ryan had to hang up on him.

Even a simple confirmation about whether MBIE had set up a multi agency group including the DPMC was met with what was frankly a tirade of abuse.  I hope all of the people of Christchurch listen to this because the behaviour and the indifference to what is a very important issue was appalling.

The audio is below.  Brownlie comes in 16 minutes into the clip.  His first action was to abuse Ryan’s understanding of the issue.

Morning Report audio

Given his clear belligerence on the issue what I would like to know is has Worksafe been subject to any pressure?  And how is a public body meant to perform an important statutory function when a Minister behaves in the way that Brownlee has?

Note:  I have changed title to refer to Nine to Noon as this was the correct programme …

52 comments on “Gerry Brownlee chucks toys out of cot on Nine to Noon”

  1. David H 1

    What a tosser! And we are supposed to elect morons like this. Good thing that she hung up on this fool.

  2. vto 2

    People on the ground here have known about this for a long long time now. The horror stories are horrific and we can expect asbestos-related effects for years to come. Most especially from those who worked in the CBD demolition from the beginning.

    Clouds of the shit.

  3. Tracey 3

    It might be worth posting the RNZ interview yesterday witht he guy who sought a moratorium 2 years ago due to health fears over asbestos. he praised worksafe but said this all needed to happen 2 years ago.

    It was a good interview. It also shows that Brownlee had a good 24+ hours to prep for today because MBIE had refused to front yesterday. That’s Joyce, never one to front bad news.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2597422/big-jump-in-christchurch-asbestos-exposure-complaints

  4. fender 4

    Brownlee the bully is a disgrace. He obviously thinks he has some form of ownership over RNZ because it is state funded and believes he can treat them like shit. How anyone could vote for this buffoon is a mystery. He would be better utilised if he helped KiwiRail to the stop trains without brakes…

    • Mary 4.1

      Brownlee is an arrogant pig. His rudeness to submitters he doesn’t like at select committees is astounding. He and Collins are key’s attack dogs. Subhuman.

  5. Marius 5

    There was probably a big plate of custard squares waiting to be demolished somewhere. The human wrecking ball might have been worried he was going to miss out.

  6. Tracey 6

    Its a serious issue and your contribution is… Fat jokes??

  7. geoff 7

    Hey Micky, the audio isn’t playing for me, just buffers.

    Did you just paste the MP3 link into your post?

    I did this with one of my recent posts. karol helpfully pointed out you need to add insert a link into the post and then add any word/s inbetween the tags.

    Also, yes Brownlee was a complete muppet, he’s jumped the shark.

    • mickysavage 7.1

      Thanks Geoff. I thought it was only my computer buffering it!

    • freedom 7.2

      weka also raised a really good point

      When you post RNZ audio links, can you please post the Share link?
      It has the streaming option and the two downloads in it. Works better to download on a slow connection. It also allows people to see how big a file it is before starting to play.

  8. amirite 8

    For all those to whom the link doesn’t work, you can listen to the interview here and find out for yourself what an arrogant, abrasive prick Brownlee is.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2597576/agencies-move-to-establish-the-asbestos-exposure-risk

  9. Roy 9

    Any chance of a transcript?

    • freedom 9.1

      have you ever put marbles in a blender ? .. it was a lot like that,

      abrubt, chaotic, really loud and at various moments it almost resulted in permanent injury

  10. McFlock 10

    Apparently “working together” is an acceptable answer to “what are government departments doing about it?”.

    You can always tell when a tory is hiding something bad – they get all shouty.

    • Tracey 10.1

      and importantly why it has taken so long to get something done about a SERIOUS health issue

  11. Tom Gould 11

    It’s always someone else’s fault with these Tories. It’s the councils, it’s the banks, it’s the developers, it’s the builders, it’s the Treasury, it’s the bureaucrats, it’s Labour, it’s everyone except them. And the media publish it, slavishly. Ironic that when they have run out of scapegoats, there’s only the media left to blame?

  12. philj 12

    Xox.
    To be fair, Gerry was mandered by KR and he didn’t like it up ‘im. He clearly felt threatened and took the gloves off, told it as it is and ran away to tell on nasty RNZ! No more funding for granny RNZ, another five years of funding cuts.

  13. Bill 13

    I’m not intending to blow my own trumpet here, but there was a post put up on asbestos in Christchurch in Sept 2010. http://thestandard.org.nz/asbestos-city/

    I remember when penning that post to feeling bemused that a fire in the city centre prior to the June quake had led to a shut down of streets and blocks because the fire service suspected asbestos. And yet, come the earthquake, and there was only one lone voice in the mainstream trying to raise the alarm. And he was ignored.

    Oh yup. And ‘kids’ were given paper masks and an hourly rate to clear rubble that was transported through or/and out of the city in trucks.

    People need to go to jail.

    • Tracey 13.1

      but the ceo of fletchers and gerry brownlie say there is no problem. Why dont you feel reassured?

      • Bill 13.1.1

        Actually, this post from October 2010 refers to the things I mentioned in my previous comment…as well as mention of all the culpable bastards putting themselves in the clear in a legal sense. Really wish links from posts wouldn’t get outdated though…

        As The Dust Settles

        • mickysavage 13.1.1.1

          Thanks Bill. I should have searched to add the historical context. It is a bugger when you get proved right …

    • adam 13.2

      Bill what were going to get is collective responsibility by a ministry, but no individual is to blame for the breakdown of communication and the problems associated with keeping records.

      Watch the spin begin…

  14. Lanthanide 14

    exposed to lethal asbestos fibres.

    Please, keep the hyperbole out of it. Asbestos is not “lethal”. The chance of actually becoming sick from exposure is very very low.

    Asbestos is naturally occurring and there are places in the world that have high natural occurrences of it, without any noted increase in associated diseases.

    According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 40% of the land area and much of the drinking water of the US contains some level of naturally occurring asbestos.

    Chrysotile asbestos, a less toxic form, comprises over 90% of all the asbestos used in the US. This form of asbestos is not nearly as persistent in lung tissue and low level intermittent exposure is not considered to be a health risk to a healthy person.

    • Tracey 14.1

      I wonder why the head of canterbury health was worried and fletchers retrained 14000 people in how to handle it in 2013 then?

      Brownlie was arrogant and tried to bully the framing of the interview but i didnt get shouty or loud as some here did. He behaved like someone who regards the media as there to serve him.

      • Lanthanide 14.1.1

        There’s elements of “best practice”, in terms of reducing risk, and also asbestos cleanup and management being a nice gravy train for those involved and who have a vested interest in playing up the risk and danger of asbestos.

        Asbestos is dangerous, it should be minimised, controlled and avoided where possible, and those at most risk are the workers. But the guy on the radio this morning saying up to 60,000 people “could be exposed” is simply being alarmist, as is referring to asbestos as “lethal”.

      • ianmac 14.1.2

        Brownlie’s idea was pretty standard really for National. Try and bury bad news. Deflect and if you can’t deflect bluster and bully.
        (By the way keep in mind the trouble the Aussie PM got into for a sly wink. Yesterday just after Question Time finished Brownlie approached the Speaker just as he was getting ready to handover the Chair, and the Speaker gave Brownlie a knowing wink and a grin. Suppose the Speaker protecting the PM from difficult questions with Brownlie’s help was worth a nod and a wink. Not important but an insight into the independent Speaker?)

    • mickysavage 14.2

      I just had a family member die from lung cancer associated with asbestosis. I can assure you Lanth it can be lethal.

      • Lanthanide 14.2.1

        Eating a ham sandwich can kill you, but we don’t call ham sandwiches lethal.

      • ianmac 14.2.2

        Years ago I used my 6inch electric planer to remove vynal from a concrete floor. Much dust. Didn’t know it was asbestos based. Ever since I wonder/worry about my every cough. Imagine the concern that Ch Ch workers must have.

        • NickS 14.2.2.1

          O_O

          Never use one of those on old vinyl floors, flat spade + water to keep the dust down is the way to go, otherwise call in the professionals. Which is what I’ll be doing with mum’s place when I can back into fulltime work and afford to renovate it, as we’ve probably got asbestos in the vinyl and plaster ceilings.

    • Roy 14.3

      Drinking asbestos is not hazardous. It is inhaling it that is hazardous.

  15. Tracey 15

    for my part I didnt think he got loud or shouty

    arrogant and bullying trying to make the interview his agenda

  16. Mr Interest 16

    This is a sensitive subject so apologies if I offend anyone

    This is for consideration only (i.e. information could be wrong):

    A. You cannot realistically retrospectively assess the exposure of individuals to asbestos (occupational or non) for Christchurch as the environment was so variable. You could be lucky or unlucky, hopefully, the correct process was followed, this was your main controllable???

    B. A data base on properties is not the expensive part (relatively), testing probably is (US site indicates $35 per sample). Certain types of analysis can be performed using light microscopes however more sophisticated analytical methods are required to validate identification. What records are kept in NZ?

    Now read this (source: http://www.asbestos.org/Asbestos%20Health%20Effects.html)

    This is for occupational exposure (I think):
    “As a matter of comparative interest, the original OSHA permissible exposure level from 1972 was 5.0 f/cc (which is clear off of the above chart), was then reduced to 2.0 f/cc in the mid ’70’s (64 deaths per 1000). Then in 1986 OHSA reduced the PEL from 2.0 to 0.2 f/cc and then recently to 0.1 f/cc. Even at the present PEL of 0.1 f/cc there are an estimated 3.2 to 3.7 asbestos related deaths per 1000 workers expected. Present EPA “clearance” levels following abatement work are 0.01 f/cc, 1/10th of the OSHA permissible exposure level.”

    See the graph for fibre levels v number of deaths (for people exposed during a lifetime of work) http://www.asbestos.org/Asbestos%20Health%20Effects.html

    Now for Non-Occupational Exposure (i.e. hard to quantify)
    “In 1980, a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)/OSHA work group concluded that there was no level of exposure to asbestos below which clinical effects did not occur. They recommended a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) based on the lowest measurable airborne fiber level, 0.01 f/cc. EPA has accepted this conclusion and recommends that 0.01 fibers per cubic centimeter be used to define the successful completion of asbestos abatement work. The risks associated with low levels of cumulative exposure are not well-established, and considerable debate surrounds the issue.

    There are many factors which complicate studies of non-occupational exposure, including a lack of data on incidental exposures which may occur, lack of data on non-occupational levels (f/cc) of exposure, and the lack of a control group (zero, or at least known “near zero” exposure). Confounding variables such as migration into and from communities and multiple exposures to other toxic chemicals and carcinogens consistently frustrate attempts to generalize about the risk of low level exposure.” End Quote

    You can make your own conclusions

  17. Gruntie 17

    Asbestos is a proven carcinogen Lanthanide – it causes a type of lung cancer that is fatal – I would classify that as “lethal”, unlike ham sandwiches; sure it depends on the dose of the exposure and, like smoking cigarettes, not everyone that smokes dies of lung cancer – but you would have to have to be a cancer denier to say cigarettes are not lethal

    • Lanthanide 17.1

      It can cause a type of lung cancer that is fatal.

      Also I am not sure that I would call cigarettes lethal either – the majority of people who smoke do not die from smoking-related illnesses, although arguably they do weaken the health of the individual as a whole.

      “Lethal” as an adjective really is generally used to refer to things that are very certain to kill you (or has killed someone). Eg, lethal injection, lethal fall, lethal dose, lethal toxin, lethal stabbing etc. It’s not typically used to refer to things that merely can cause death.

  18. Mr Interest 18

    Note, even years after when site clean up is in action people can be exposed. Admittedly this example is an extreme case (aka the world trade center), however, it is a few years on.

    http://www.asbestos.com/world-trade-center/

    “According to a report from a Hopkins University study, even workers who joined the clean-up process by January 2002 developed “significant respiratory health problems.”

    The pertinent question maybe to ask is at what point was the appropriate safety equipment/processes etc given to clean up personnel?

    One can understand just after an event the need to act quickly, however, what about after 1 year later.

    Also were monitoring bodies put in place (records kept that work on asbestos was compliant)

    Also, it may be time to review emergency services response procedures to this.

    Although, you may not be able to determine an individual’s exposure to asbestos retrospectively, maybe you can identify, retrospectively, areas of high risk.

    Also look at this from WHO
    http://www.who.int/hac/crises/chn/asbestos/en/
    What are the risks in the post-earthquake clean up?
    During the clean up of damaged and destroyed buildings after the earthquake, it is likely that there will be a need to handle, break up and dispose of asbestos-containing building and insulation materials. Much of this work may be undertaken by temporary labourers, volunteers and local residents who are unaware of the hazards of asbestos and who may be unable to identify asbestos-containing material. Further, it is unlikely that the workers will, in the first instance, be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), thus increasing their risk of long term health problems.

    Note also particulate matter (not just asbestos) is a problem, so 60,000 people exposed? You can model it.

  19. Mr Interest 19

    Noting also some interesting points on Earthquake and asbestos. Please see below.

    Christchurch is mentioned. But more importantly, the concern is raised about asbestos exposure.

    http://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/natural-disasters/

    Earthquakes

    Three recent examples of large-scale earthquakes around the world are giving experts concerns about the level of exposure to asbestos. Quakes in Sichuan, China; Christchurch, New Zealand; and in Japan have not yet been tied to any cases of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. All of the diseases generally have a 20- to 50-year latency period between exposure and the presence of symptoms.

    Sichuan, China

    On May 12, 2008, an earthquake in Sichuan, China, destroyed many buildings, including hospitals, schools, government offices and private homes. The external walls, roofs, window awnings and bathrooms in many of these buildings had been made using asbestos cement sheets — commonly known as “fibro” or “fibro cement.” The earthquake broke the fibro into small pieces, releasing fine fibers of asbestos at the broken edges.

    During cleanup operations, there was the risk of disturbing substantial quantities of asbestos fibers, particularly when using heavy equipment to demolish damaged structures and load the rubble into vehicles. These asbestos fibers were a determined to be significant risk to public health. A joint statement by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program provides a guideline on how to control the risk of the cleanup and to safely dispose of asbestos waste in the areas affected by an earthquake.

    Christchurch, New Zealand

    Following the Christchurch earthquake on May 27, 2011, in New Zealand, the Canterbury District Health Board member Andrew Dickerson said the group would have to deal with 4.25 million tons of rubble in coming months. Dickerson expressed concerns to the public about exposure to things like asbestos, toxins from electronic waste, toxins in the dust and toxins from treated timber. Thousands of homes contained asbestos, and owners were often unaware that the material was present and the health risks from exposure to the airborne fiber.

    “This is a very serious matter,” said Darrell MacLean, president of Suburban Middlesex Insulation who has more than 25 years’ experience dealing with environmental hazards. “When an old building is demolished, like many were in Christchurch and the suburban areas by the earthquake, there are massive amounts of toxic materials released and exposed which are a definite danger to those working in the debris, those living close by and those who have to haul it away.”

    ……..

    Asbestos in Earthquake Cleanup

    Generally during cleanup of damaged and destroyed buildings after an earthquake, it is likely that there will be a need to handle, break up and dispose of asbestos-containing building and insulation materials. Much of this work may be undertaken by temporary laborers, volunteers and local residents who are unaware of the hazards of asbestos and who may be unable to identify asbestos-containing material.

    Further, it is unlikely that the workers will, in the first instance, be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), thus increasing their risk of long-term health problems. Many people will also be unaware of proper abatement methods for the proper cleanup and removal of the asbestos materials. As a result of the cleanup operations there may be an accumulation of asbestos-containing waste that will present a hazard to people in the local environment and those living in close proximity to the site of final disposal.

  20. Mr Interest 20

    A Government is responsible for the safety of its people, period. The information has been out there for a long time. Your responsible for enforcing the laws governing the contractors, the contractors in turn are responsible for carrying out best practice.

    A simple analysis of literature will show you concerns. For example this is an example taken from Differing Site Condition Claims, John Wiley & Sons, 1992. By John E. Osborn.

    Yes thats right 1992, and it only pertains to domestic removal, not complex disasters.

    https://www.google.co.nz/search?client=opera&q=Litigation+Pertaining+to+Asbestos+Contracting&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8#q=www.osbornlaw.com%2Fpdf%2Fjeopc_presents%2Fpublications%2F

    Quotes.

    “Generally, in the beginning, when it came to asbestos abatement, the major participants in the construction process – design professionals, construction managers, and contractors – lacked expertise and insurance.

    Although risk management experts would certainly have advised against it, some entrepreneurs nevertheless
    were willing to perform asbestos abatement in exchange for the promise of a hefty profit margin.

    Overall there is a lack of standards for those who design, perform, and monitor asbestos abatement projects.”

    They then follow through some case studies, their solutions are as follows (again for domestic events, not disaster)

    How the problem could have been avoided.
    Once again, a greater investment in the efforts of the environmental consultant would have allowed the owner to obtain a more accurate bid. In both cases, had the owner kept better records on the ‘as-built’conditions of the building and disclosed these records to the consultant, there would have been no changed condition claim.

    How the problem could have been avoided.
    Further owner expenditures on the environmental consultant investigation and better owner research of its own records would have saved a significant amount of expense. Hasty planning required to keep a project on schedule and acceleration of the work are costly items.

  21. Mr Interest 21

    Now consider this:

    Quotes: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/tag/nbr-rich-list/

    “National’s first set of tax cuts – the personal tax cuts and ‘Independent earner rebate’ taking effect in April 2009 – cost approximately $1 billion a year”

    Then this

    Bill English says,

    “…all Government departments are tasked with finding ways to save money, and staff costs are one of them.”

    Ask yourself this, what is more important,

    The health/safety and national economic security of a Nation or tax cuts for the rich?
    How much damage has really been done through under spend in government departments?
    How much more will it cost to fix this underspend in order to provide robust systems and processes?
    In the end wont both the wealthy and less well off profit from better systems, rather than vote chasing moves.

    Over and out

    I suspect their are many more examples of this lurking around in Government Departments.

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