Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, April 6th, 2018 - 47 comments
Categories: christchurch earthquake, david clark, Economy, Gerry Brownlee, labour, Media, national, same old national, Simon Bridges, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:
The daily release of hidden fiscal horrors is occurring at pace. Clearly Steven Joyce was right about there being a $11.7 billion dollar hole in Labour’s fiscal policy update. The problem for National is that a series of financial time bombs were hidden in the Government’s accounts and no one but them knew. And the time bombs are only seeing daylight now.
We have already had the fiasco of the underspend in Health. There was further bad news recently as Tom Curley on Radio New Zealand disclosed that a further three Middlemore Hospital buildings had serious issues. From the article:
The extent of the Counties Manukau District Health Board’s building woes is even worse than first thought.
RNZ has been reporting on hospital buildings at Middlemore Hospital that are full of rot and potentially dangerous mould. There’s also asbestos present and raw sewage leaking into the walls.
The District Health Board has said it became aware as early as 2012 it had four badly leaking buildings; Scott Building, Kidz First, SuperClinic Complex and the McIndoe Building.
A briefing document to unions shows many more buildings are affected.
A 2017 facilities stocktake rates each of the DHB’s buildings from a high level of concern through to no concern.
While the SuperClinic was among the high concern buildings, the McIndoe, Kidz First were considered medium concern with leaky Scott Building only low.
Seven buildings were considered of “high concern” with asbestos, leaks, critical infrastructure problems and some seismic concerns.
The buildings include the Colvin Complex, which is home to patient wards, the Western Campus and the Otara Spinal Unit.
A total of 16 buildings are in the high or medium concern categories.
When asked for more details, Counties Manukau DHB did not directly address questions, instead saying they would be considered under the Official Information Act.
The primary cause of the problems is good old fashioned penny pinching. It is international best practice for Health organisations to budget 3% of their total spend for maintenance. Middlemore has been receiving less than half the amount it needed ($15 million) to do this work properly. And the consequences are now appearing.
There are dozens of other examples. Health Minister David Clark’s estimate that $14 billion would be needed to sort the problems out does not seem extreme in the slightest.
Simon Bridges is refusing to accept blame. Maybe magic pixies were in control of the country for the past nine years and not National.
And other problems are now appearing and the former Government’s response is pretty underwhelming. Two days ago it was announced that the cost of re-repairs for botched up Christchurch Eaerthquake repair jobs was $160m. But then the kicker. It was disclosed yesterday that the cash amounts paid out inflated this figure to $270 million.
Gerry Brownlee said in 2016 that it was $60 to $70 million. The figure seemed to be far too low at the time.
And just remember. This is not the cost of repairs. This is the cost of fixing botched repairs and paying cash in compensation rather than fixing botched repairs.
And it may not be the end. Local lawyers think that the final cost could double.
Comment was sought from Brownlee. He replied by hanging up on John Campbell without giving us the benefit of an explanation.
National’s current spokesperson on the Christchurch rebuild, Stuart Smith, was more willing to discuss the matter. He says EQC should be seeking reimbursement if a contractor hasn’t lived up to its obligations. There might be something in the small print of the contract that Brownlee negotiated that means this is difficult. And given that logic I think there is a stunning case to seek reimbursement of Brownlee’s Ministerial salary because in my humble opinion he certainly has not lived up to his obligations.
Well done Radio New Zealand for its dogged following of this story. Current political issues surrounding the broadcaster should not have occurred. Radio New Zealand is a precious flower that should be protected from adverse criticism, warranted or otherwise. And generating media noise is not helpful to the cause.
And National should hang its head in shame for suggesting that Labour was going to cut funding for the rebuild.
Here is the evidence, a statement from Nicky Wagner. From the National Party website:
There has been widespread concern in the Christchurch community that Labour has rescinded some of the funding appropriated by National to support the rebuild of Christchurch, National Party Spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Nicky Wagner says.
“With Labour’s recent record of promise and back track, it’s not surprising that the Christchurch community was worried that the funding set aside by National for Christchurch may not be available,” Mrs Wagner says.
“Fortunately, in response to my questions in the House today the Minister for Greater Regeneration Megan Woods has confirmed that they will honour National’s funding appropriations for Christchurch.
How [deleted because it is a swear word] stupid do you have to [deleted because it is a swear word] be to [deleted because it is a swear word] suggest that Labour would [deleted because it is a swear word] [deleted because it is a swear word] around with funding for the Christchurch rebuild when every time it talks about the [deleted because it is a swear word] subject it [deleted because it is a swear word] says that [deleted because it is a swear word] not enough is [deleted because it is a swear word] being [deleted because it is a swear word] done and [deleted because it is a swear word] more should [deleted because it is a swear word] occur?
I mean there is politics and there is stupid. Wagner’s suggestion Labour was not going to fund elements of the rebuild was conclusively in the second category.
But this example shows that the next few years are going to be rough. Labour and the Greens are going to have to be on top of their game. And as a starting point they should be reminding everyone every chance they get that National’s claim that it is a party with a history of strong economic management is hogwash.