National’s Andrew Bayly is incompetent about earthquakes.

Written By: - Date published: 10:09 am, January 4th, 2023 - 23 comments
Categories: Christopher Luxon, Gerry Brownlee, national, same old national - Tags: ,

This morning a estimated 5.1 earthquake close to Te Aroha shook Hamilton, Tauranga, Auckland and Rotorua. This region contains roughly half of our 5.1 million population.

Hopefully also a wakeup call for National about their consistent short term blindness about protecting our citizens. Just a day ago National’s building and construction spokesman, Andrew Bayly, was playing short-term politics by criticising a program to help strengthen apartments at risk of earthquake damage.

NZ is a country that has earthquakes. They are unpredictable about both their frequency and their intensity. Many of the faults are not mapped nor fully assessed for risk. You only have to ask the surprised citizens of Canterbury when they discovered a unknown fault complexes the hard way with a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in in 2010, plus a 6.2 and 6.0 in 2011.

The only ways to prepare for earthquake risks in NZ is to forward load risk management with ongoing adherence to updating risk assessment and building standards before an earthquake strikes and good insurance like our EQC cover for dealing with the preparation failures after the fact.

One important part of this is making sure that owner-occupiers in multi-dwelling buildings, who do not derive income from their property, don’t hold up the process for earthquake hardening buildings.

The Government scheme opened to applications for individual loans of up to $250,000 more than two years ago.

It was primarily designed for owners at risk of losing their homes due to financial hardship from large earthquake-strengthening bills, many of whom are in Wellington.

Written parliamentary questions by Bayly reveal only one application, which was previously declined, has been granted conditional loan approval after the scheme’s eligibility criteria were widened in May.

NZ Herald: “Fund for owners of earthquake-risk apartments a waste of money — National

Basically Bayly’s argument appears to be that a single conditional approval was slow response after 2 years, and he seems to imply with his lack of an alternative that the work simply isn’t worth doing. Needless to say, this is exactly what we have come to expect from a National MP with their characteristic myopia and usual lack of forward thinking. He doesn’t suggest any better way of achieving the same purpose.

Bayly said he was disappointed the scheme has had such little impact.

“When taxpayers ask where all the money has gone that the Labour Government has said they have spent on worthwhile schemes, this is the value they are obtaining.

“It is an outrageous waste of money for such a poor outcome. Meanwhile, owners continue to live with the uncertainty and fear that their house may not be strong enough to withstand the next earthquake.”

NZ Herald: “Fund for owners of earthquake-risk apartments a waste of money — National

My reaction after looking at that article was that Andrew Bayly was a complete fool about the technical and financial issues in his shadow portfolio. Despite his accountancy and military background, he clearly had no idea about the issues of the planning, logistics, or even the basics of leadership issues of how long it takes apartment blocks to agree to do this kind of work. 2 years is nothing. There also appears to be a lot of work going on in the background – which as far as I can see Andrew Bayly appears to have never asked about when questioning.

But Kāinga Ora, the scheme’s administrator, has received 56 expressions of interest from potential applicants.

Many of these people are getting themselves borrower ready, meaning they can provide all the documentation required for an application.

Kāinga Ora understood five potential applicants might be ready to make applications over the course of the next year.

NZ Herald: “Fund for owners of earthquake-risk apartments a waste of money — National

To give an idea of the time frame for a fast rebuild process, just look at what I went through back in the mid-2000s.

Our apartment block of 61 apartments took about 4 years to get a full engineering assessment of a water tightness issue, a remediation plan, pricing, and agreement amongst the strata owners of the apartments about what to do with about the work. Most of that work was funded by the body corporate’s contingency fund and a some small special levies as the block was only completed in 1998.

My point is that our apartment process was assessed as being really fast by the engineers, builders, and lawyers. It took 4 years to get to the point where we could have called on something like the programme that Andrew Bayly is criticising after 2 years.

After 4 years, apartment owners could start talking to banks to raise real money with the kind of detail required to be considered for it. Which is where this programme starts kicking in. 2 years is nothing.

The intent of the programme is for those who have the worst financial issues.

Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa said the scheme was about helping those most in need

“We understand how complicated it can be to fix an earthquake-prone building where there are many unit owners. Getting the finance to do this work can be difficult, if not near impossible, for some people in this situation.

“This loan scheme offers support to unit owners so that they are not put in a position where they are forced to sell their home or burdened by the stress of huge financial hardship.”

NZ Herald: “Government loan scheme opens for owners of quake-prone apartments

After 4 years, it took me most of a year to get the financing in place from a bank. That would be a required preliminary process before applying for a loan under this programme. Due diligence with taxpayer funds would require that to happen to show the conditions for granting a loan under this programme are fulfilled.

in my case, the time was despite having a pretty good income and reasonable equity in my apartment. Lenders are understandably rather risk adverse about lending the large amounts required to retrofit a existing building. The process takes longer for people with less of stable income – like those on pensions or unemployed.

It is even harder with a rebuild than for most other forms of financing. Rebuild is a process that diminishes the saleable value of the property while it is going on. It exposes the lender to drops in equity from unexpected problems that get uncovered after builders start. Plus there is always a risk of a earthquake while the building is more vulnerable during the rectification.

So for Andrew Bayly, currently number 14 on the National bench (previously 3rd in the second Judith Collins reshuffle), to make such dimwitted and inept comments about a programme that started a mere 2 years ago is ridiculous. Unfortunately it also seems to demonstrate yet again the general lack of competence in the National caucus. Starting from the incoherent critic Christopher Luxon with his curious inability to articulate what exists of the detail of National’s policies. Through to few of the front-bench being able to articulate what National’s policies are on anything that can’t be expressed in a slogan small enough for Mike Hosking to remember and parrot.

Andrew Bayly just reminds me of the similar levels of incompetence and lack of understanding that Gerry Brownlee, also 3rd in the National lineup, displayed after being appointed as Minister of Earthquake Recovery after the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquakes. It isn’t hard more than 12 years later to argue that he was mostly competent at slowing the rebuild.

Hopefully National could at least present their current non-existent policies about earthquake risks, their ways to prevent loss of life and property in earthquakes, or even an awareness that earthquakes will happen in the future. Then at least they’d have a basis to criticise a government that is actually doing something about all of these.

Updated: amended current position in National lineup.

I have a BSc in earth sciences, a MBA in operations management, worked as a manager in various contexts, was a NZ territorial, have a lot of experience in military training, a long interest in politics and programming, and obviously I like living in a apartment. Please comment about opinions and facts in the post or related topics rather than the author. 

23 comments on “National’s Andrew Bayly is incompetent about earthquakes. ”

  1. You_Fool 1

    This is just national being anti-labour without putting any thought into it at all…

    Why have any rational thought when you can just go "bbrrrr labour bad brrrr jacinda is mean brrrr"

    Gone are the days of rational debate and a clash of ideas

    • lprent 1.1

      The problem is that National give no impression that they have any ideas to take into government.

      It looks like they will just dither pointlessly responding to issues without preparing for the inevitable like they did in their last 9 years of controlling the treasury benches.

      The exception of some preparatory work by Bill English and Simon Powers that is still being used today. Bill English provided the much of the basis of 3 Waters, for various changes in the approach to the cliff in parts of social welfare, and a number of other worthwhile measures. Simon Powers did some good work in parts of the Justice system – most of which Judith Collins managed to trash through slogan based policies.

      (I updated this comment after I had a shower and a bit more time to think).

      • You_Fool 1.1.1

        They have no ideas verbalized because they don't need too… it is a result of headline electioneering… doesn't matter what is real or what you might do different… if you can get a good headline then that is all that matters. That is what people will see on social media or searches…

        • lprent

          Then you get what happened in the last National-led government. They come in with absolutely no idea about what they need to do to be a good government. They even lack the knowledge and understanding to allow them evaluate the proposals out of the bureaucrats.

          • Tony Veitch

            They come in with absolutely no idea about what they need to do to be a good government.

            Which is precisely why the Act tail will wag the Natz dog!

        • Thinker

          IMHO it is purposeful and dirtier than you are making it.

          It could be a strategy to get people's attention on what Labour is 'doing wrong'.

          Shout that message loudly enough and constantly enough and they will stop asking what National would do different or better.

          In other words, make people angry enough about Labour and anything/nothing will become a better alternative.

  2. Corey Humm 2

    My house fell down with me in it along with my entire CBD. It's not just the big big ones it's the tens of thousands of quakes owe experienced over the next three years that weaken buildings.

    Anyone who thinks earthquake strengthening is a waste of time or money is a fool.

    You'd be surprised by the buildings that fall down.

    We are a country on the Pacific rim,.it's insane we didn't take quake strengthening prior.

    Earthquake strengthen every building that can be restrengthened and bring down any public building that can't be restrengthened to withstand a massive quake.

    The alternative is losing your home, your friends or family, your entire town or city and having bureaucrats on both sides playing real life sim city at a glacial pace and inflicting social experiments like merging or closing down all the poor schools and completely neglecting areas that don't vote for whoever the incumbents are…

    You don't want to live through your city being rebuilt by Wellington. Restrengthen every building!

  3. In my opinion National is reactionary, always full of opinions after the fact.

    Seldom do they anticipate anything other than how to make a profit from the Public Purse, while protecting those profits from taxes. They prefer the "Fire Economy"

    They currently accuse Labour of causing division, but I thought National forming an elite Maori Group they could "consult" on things Maori, was divisive and calculated to control new Maori Wealth. imo

    The reaction to all programme offerings and progress by Labour is met with the following reaction pattern.

    "That costs too much, we will undo that."

    There does not seem to be any rationale, except conservative reaction to more Public Service and Government plans. No replacement offered except on Law and Order, and those are a poor rehash.

    Their reaction to Covid was scary, so this is Bayly following the usual pattern "wasted money, we will undo that", and you rightly show the lack of understanding. Personally I think it is because they don't care.. "someone will get a bargain " is their mantra of dog eat dog, and small Government.

    • Kat 3.1

      I would add that National appear to be deliberately using negative modes of expression disguised as 'holding the govt to account' in order to play upon any fears that may be in the minds of, by all accounts, normal people. The media then repeat this negativity to a level that the general mood of the country becomes, as a matter of course, disturbed to the point of paranoid.

      This years general election outcome may reflect just how successful, or not, National and Acts current style of political negativity pans out.

  4. adam 4

    I'd suggest that Andrew Bayly has exposed himself as a complete tool.

    It has been the way of the the neo-cons of late. Long may they carry on.

  5. woodart 5

    #3 on the nat bench! never heard of him. must be a deep pool of talent for him to ooze to the surface. whats he standing on?

    • The Veteran 5.1

      except he's not #3 he's #14. The author couldn't even get that right. An alternative view might be that one conditional approval in two years is another example of Labour taking the talk but failing to walk the walk. Five years of incompetence … some legacy to fight the election on. No wonder Labour MPs are bailing out … going out on your own terms looks much better on the c.v. than forcibly retired.

      • Incognito 5.1.1

        By definition, RWNJs are so keen to go on the attack and score cheap wins & points that they are too lazy to check their own BS that is invariably inaccurate or incorrect and therefore misleading.

        Under the general rules of Employment Law, employees in NZ cannot be ‘forcibly retired’.

        MPs most definitely cannot be ‘forcibly retired’ and when you think about it for a moment, you realise the absurdity of your BS or not, as is the case with you.

        A member of Parliament holds a statutory office. Members are not employees in an employment relationship (except for certain tax purposes), nor are they subject to any contractual obligations regarding their duties.

        • alwyn

          "MPs most definitely cannot be ‘forcibly retired’".

          Really? When did this become true?

          Are you seriously of the belief that the current Labour MPs who don't get into the lucky few seats that Labour are likely to win at the next election will just be able to keep attending Parliament and getting paid and voting when the Labour entitlement to seats drops drops in the aftermath of the vote?

          Of course they are going to be compulsorily retired. They will be just like all the New Zealand First MPs who were retired at the 2020 election.

      • Apart Military training and service, and later climbing a fence and accidentally shooting his brother in the leg ( the limb was saved luckily) and owning 200 reindeer, I could not find any other features about his contributions as an MP since 2014., so no wonder Bayly is No. 14 lol.

      • lprent 5.1.3

        except he’s not #3 he’s #14. The author couldn’t even get that right.

        Interesting. I do have problems keeping up with the shuffleboard of National party politics.

        He is showing last recorded as number 3 in the wikipedia page for him.

        "After a shadow cabinet reshuffle on 11 November 2020, Bayly was promoted to number 3 in the National Party rankings and was made Shadow Treasurer and the National Party spokesperson for infrastructure and statistics. This was a promotion of 14 places in National's shadow cabinet, and Bayly was described by reporters as "relatively unknown" and "little-known"."

        I guess noone cares enough to update the page.

        An alternative view might be that one conditional approval in two years is another example of Labour taking the talk but failing to walk the walk.

        Updated: after digging through the rotations of National lineups over the last two years (which certainly demonstrates that active churning for the sake of being seen to be doing something certainly doesn’t indicate quality decisions), I have amended the post.

        The detail is in my reply to this comment.

  6. AB 6

    National's general approach is that we can't do this sort of thing until we have a "strong economy". A "strong economy" simply means maximising private sector profitability and shareholder value by any means available – lowering wages, lowering taxes, allowing business to externalise costs onto taxpayers, weakening regulation, deferring investment and not burdening business with any new costs. i.e. to make things better, we'll just have to make them worse – but only for a while of course, promise!

    • In Vino 6.2

      True, AB.

      Schools and hospitals will have been told, 'Let's get the economy right first!'

      Years of underfunding will follow, but never will schools or hospital hear that there has been an economic boom, and they will get some extra funding to put things right. It never happens.

      Next thing there is a new economic crisis, and it is revealed that there has actually been a boom that the schools and hospitals somehow never got to hear about.

      To hell with the Right, and also Labour who have never broken this pattern.

  7. he is just another nationals party money grubber with a total laisse faire attitude to everything except that which gives him a return without doing anything.

  8. Mike the Lefty 8

    Every time there is a flood, fire, earthquake we can blame it on Jacinda and her government, obviously.

    There is a small but very noisy bunch of rabids in this country that believe this, and National seem to like playing along with this cliche when it suits them.

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