John Key thinks he can smile and wave his way through the worst natural disaster this country has faced. It’s a stunning dereliction of duty:
“Our good friends in the Labour Party, who want to exaggerate everything, run around telling you the worst sort of Armageddon picture,” he said.
Labour had predicted there would be 20,000 people left unemployed because of the disaster.
“Actually there’s about 1000,” he said.
I’m not aware of Labour making any such projection. The unions have estimated 20,000. So have business groups. Why are ‘only’ 1,000 unemployed so far? Because most people who are out of work due to the earthquake are still on the emergency benefits that were created for them. Those benefits end in a week. Then the true nature of the unemployment disaster in Christchurch will be revealed. Key knows this. Why he pretends otherwise is beyond me. It seems to be the ultimate in short-term politicking.
“Economic activity here is going to be enormous. Basically you are spending $25m over a five year period, that’s the equivalent of the entire construction industry around New Zealand every year for five years. It’s going to be phenomenal,” he said.
Does the industry have capacity to expand production five-fold? Of course not, which means massive building cost inflation. Is the government doing anything to get the industry ready for the rebuild? No, it hasn’t even restored entirely its training cuts from last year.
“I think you are going to see a lot more people trained.”
I still can’t get over how Key and English talk about government responsibilities, like skills training, as if it is something entirely outside their control and they are just casual observers.
And what is going to be rebuilt anyway? The estimate, based on EFTPOS card users, is 80,000 of the 375,000 population has high-tailed it. That number will surely rise when the quake benefits expire. How many will stay away permanently? More with every day.
Would you build a house or open a business in a community that is de-populating? Of course not. You would take your insurance payout and head somewhere vibrant. So where will the demand for rebuilding come from? It would have to be government-led. But that clearly isn’t going to happen.
Internationally people would also be attracted to work opportunities coming from the re-build.
“After 10 years of re-build, do you really think they are going to pack up and leave? Not a dog’s show,”
Um. We have 270,000 out of work Kiwis, so why is Key saying that the earthquake is an excellent opportunity to attract foreign workers?
But this is the worst line:
“Look at something like EQC, they’ve gone from having 29 people to something like 1500; that is a growth business.”
EQC is Key’s example of a growth business? Seriously? A government body that is designed to temporarily expand to assess damage after an disaster is Key’s model of success? Its like saying a plague has created economic opportunities because the demand for gravediggers is through the roof.
Hmm. That’s kind of appropriate imagery for Christchurch’s future thank to Key’s pathetic leadership.