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Nats politicising earthquake response

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, November 18th, 2016 - 74 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, disaster, national, same old national, spin - Tags: , , ,

John Armstrong is back with a column at One News (or whatever they’re called this week). John sees everything in terms of political horse racing – even earthquakes. – Government knows how to play a disaster

During such national emergencies, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition becomes irrelevant.

Its component parties have no power. They cannot do anything that helps the victims of a natural disaster.

If Opposition politicians are critical of something that the Government has or has not done to start fixing things, they risk being accused of exploiting people’s misery for political profit.

On top of that, the public expects politicians to take a bipartisan stance during national emergencies.

That is the high ground. Andrew Little has wisely chosen to occupy – at least for the time being.

In the Government’s case, the supposed politics-free zone is a charade.

By definition, action taken by a government has a political component or political motive.

No-one inside the Government would ever admit it, but dealing with the after-effects of a natural disaster of the current proportions allows National to reinforce its leadership and competence credentials without looking self-serving.

The Prime Minister has got this down to a fine art.

You can’t blame the Nats for trying to look good for the cameras on this, any party in power would do the same. But you can blame them for naked politicising government earthquake response. What is National’s logo doing on taxpayer funded government responses?

74 comments on “Nats politicising earthquake response”

  1. Incognito 1

    Making the most out of other people’s plight; no different from a pseudo-Bishop then …

    • SomeName 1.1

      JK and his party are doing the same as the Trumps making the most of others misery pretty low really but too many NZers are so naïve

  2. Ad 2

    I think the government are doing a good job on this one and there’s no point complaining about it. Sorry.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      The public service is doing an outstanding job and the Government will get the credit for it …

      • Enough is Enough 2.1.1

        And if the Public Service is doing a poor job then who gets the blame…

        • Muttonbird

          And if the Public Service is doing a poor job…

          You certainly won’t see the National Party logo anywhere near it.

          • Brendon

            I am one of the mental health professionals providing a response to the earthquakes and I am certainly not doing it because of the National Party and if I saw any of that sort of party polical signage around my workplace they would get removed pretty darn quickly.

      • Anne 2.1.2

        Working on the RNZAF Base, Whenuapai during the Cyclone Bola disaster… I saw first-hand the enormous role the army and airforce played helping the regions affected get back on their feet again. For the first couple of weeks the Hercs were moving equipment to Gisborne all day and night – from blankets/food parcels to huge earth moving machines. As fast as one took off another would arrive back to be reloaded. In the ensuing months they continued to cart materials/personnel back and forth although not at the initial pace. It brought home to me how indispensable the Defence Services are in times of extreme need.

        If I recall correctly, the appropriate ministers in the 4th Labour govt. were profuse in their gratitude to them and others. I don’t recall them attempting to take any of the credit. How times have changed. (sigh)

        • Puckish Rogue

          They certainly have:


          “Thank you for the work you’re doing with those wonderful NH90 helicopters I bought as minister that are evacuating people from Kaikoura and for the multi role vessel Canterbury which I hope is in the process of getting large numbers of people out”.

          • Anne

            Don’t forget the previous sentence:

            Goff, a former defence minister, also expressed admiration for the New Zealand Defence Force’s efforts aiding and evacuating Kaikoura while taking some credit.

            Note: He’s taking credit for something (prob. a bit tongue in cheek) 28 years after Cyclone Bola disaster. As I say… how times have changed.

          • Muttonbird

            Where was the Labour Party authorisation and logo on that statement?

      • SomeName 2.1.3

        Can you tell me why you are putting my email address when it says above (will not be published)

        [lprent: *You* or your machine (ie via cookies held on your machine) are putting the email into the Name area. Please read the fields before pressing send.

        I have changed the Name field to ‘SomeName’

        Incidentally we don’t require real email addresses for people who aren’t logged in. You can use anything that looks like email as a shared secret between you and our server. ]

    • locus 2.2

      no body’s complaining about the government response, just about the blatant advertising logo on a government notice

      • save nz 2.2.1

        The government made a lot of promises in Christchurch too. They look great on TV, make sincere promises (Key I will get the Pike River bodies out), but somehow after the election it is slowly revealed that only cronies and Nat voters seem to be helped out, poorer areas don’t get the same help, help that was promised never comes etc.It’s always someone else fault.

        I bet Wellington recovery is pushed a lot faster than CHCH ever was, and that Kaikoura will play second fiddle to Wellington recovery.

        • Ch-ch Chiquita

          Yes, the government is great at announcing things, but no one ever goes back and check if it is actually done.
          Our school is a rebuild; a rebuild that is being delayed again and again and again. This week we already started discussing the possibility it will never happen, not with all the money that has to go to Kaikoura now.
          But hey, the government had a scapegoat to blame for it’s huge debt and used the disaster for great announcements and photo ops and got elected again, so all good on planet key.

      • wellfedweta 2.2.2

        The pictures above are taken from the National Party Twitter feed. The actual ads I’ve seen don’t feature the logo. I think this is just mischief making in the face of a serious disaster.

        I have been watching Parliament the past few days and I have been impressed with MP’s from all sides. The opposition questions have been considered and probing, the government responses detailed and informative. All in all, a good job being done all round.

        • Sacha

          “The actual ads I’ve seen don’t feature the logo.”

          Without the logo, the items match Nat branding (colours, fonts, layout) and they have a promoter statement. Nice try, though.

          • wellfedweta

            These are from National’s Twitter feed. If they were from Labour’s they would carry Labour’s branding and promoter statement. I really can’t believe you are silly enough not to understand this.

      • Wayne 2.2.3

        Almost certainly this will be from the National Party website, which is funded by members and many members will be have chosen to get National Party posts. Presumably the National Party thought it a good idea to tell members what the govt was doing. They do this with pretty much all govt announcements of any significance.
        As most people will know there is NZ Govt website paid for by taxpayers. All political parties have their own websites paid for by members. Each party can put out the stuff they want.
        So no big sin here.

        • Sacha

          The *government* has acted, not just one of the coalition of parties that form it. Hardly a matter of differentiated policy either – whoever was in power would have done the same.

          It’s like the Nats trumpeting every time the govt commits business-as-usual funding for things like more schools and hospitals and roads to meet population growth. Just seems more distasteful in this case.

          • NZJester

            The National government does love to trumpet the fact that they have given more funding to a lot of various services over and above what they got under the previous Labour government. The thing is however when you adjust a lot of that so called higher funding for inflation and the rise in population needing access to those services you find that far from actually increasing the funding for a lot of services, in real terms they have actually shrunk their inflation adjusted budget per head of population that require the services. Most of our emergency services and hospitals are having to rely on the good will of those civil defense workers and healthcare professionals to cope with these emergencies while severely under funded.

    • adam 2.3

      Sorry for what exactly, that national put there logo on a public service? Confused by the sorry…

      If the labor party or the Greens did this, it would be blue bloody murder and people on the left would be wringing there hands going – “that was a bad move” . Yet, now we have people going, ‘no point complaining about it’.

    • Well, if you bloody lived here you would not be saying that.

      Dorks like you make me sick.

    • simbit 2.5

      Govt model for disasters: reduce, ready [event] respond, recover.

      As a nation we’re awesome at response, poor at recovery, criminal at reduction, miserly in readying.

  3. Keith 3

    Wow, the NZ Government logo has morphed in the “Partys” logo.

    When it all starts going rotten, when the spot light is off and the Nats slip back into doing nothing mode, will the helpful signs remain?

    Still it’s a prime opportunity to overthrow local councils for Party related business and I’m sure thats in the planning too!

    • ropata 3.1

      Why is it that democracy is the first thing thrown out the window in a crisis?

      • tc 3.1.1

        Because its worked brilliantly since 2008 and they manufactured a non existant crises about ACC funding.

        That issue set a template they’re msm shills have stuck with since.

      • Puckish Rogue 3.1.2

        I think its because democracy only works in perfect conditions, for example your country needs to have reached a level of education otherwise democracy simply turns into voting for a person from my tribe

        Also when things turn to custard democracy isn’t always the best form of government however not having elections should only be done in the direst of circumstances ie no election in NZ in 1941

        • ropata

          Rhetorical question, the answer is actually “because then National can implement a scorched earth policy and strip mine public assets with no opposition”. It’s called disaster capitalism.

    • Leftie 3.2

      “the NZ Government logo has morphed in the “Partys” logo”

      It’s not the first time National have done this.

  4. alwyn 4

    Surely Andrew Little can follow the example of one of his predecessors in the temporary leader of the Labour Party role?

    Phil Goff claimed the credit for the work being done by the defence force because of the helicopters that were ordered when he was Minister of Defence. Everything that is being done is because of his magnificent foresight.
    He isn’t, of course, taking any responsibility for the crappy Freyberg House they occupy which was also a product of his reign at Defence but one never did expect consistency or a good memory from someone who was an MP for as long as he was.

    Shape up Andrew. Learn from Phil and claim that everything being done is because of you.

    • Leftie 4.1

      Andrew Little is (thankfully) not like photo ops John key and unlike John key is not wanting to milk another disaster for his election campaign.
      IMO, It is in very poor taste how National party sycophants have once again politicized a disaster and have tried to make it all about John Key.

      BTW Alwyn… Being Prime Minister is a temporary job too.

      • alwyn 4.1.1

        “Being Prime Minister is a temporary job too”
        Absolutely correct. I don’t expect John Key will have it for more than another 2 or 3 years and he will then retire.
        So far he is up to 8 years and has had Clark, Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe and Little as being Labour Party leaders during his time. Somehow being PM doesn’t seem to be quite as temporary as being the Labour Party leader does it?

        • Leftie

          Alwyn. 2 or 3 years is a stretch, key won’t get past the next election.

          Little is still Labour’s leader.

          How many leaders did National go through when they sat in opposition for 9 years?

          • alwyn

            Well 4 actually.
            Shipley, English, Brash and Key.
            That’s one less than Labour are already up to and I can visualise Robertson having a turn before the next election.
            That is unless he decides it is already a lost cause and doesn’t want to get caught as the loser next year.
            At the moment I think Key will be PM after the election. I don’t particularly like it but there is no competent alternative around to form a Government.

            • adam

              Deflection, and off topic alwyn.

              The point, which I notice you ignore, is your boy the ponytail express is milking this. And using what is a public service and state funding to advertise for themselves.

              Oh wait you know it’s morally wrong, so you deflecting – the new amoral at work?

              • Leftie

                +1 Adam.

              • alwyn

                Then you tell Leftie off for being “off topic”.
                He brought the subject of being a “temp” in the job up, not me.
                Are you like him and didn’t like my response?

                • Leftie

                  Alwyn. Read your original comment that I responded to, it was you who brought up “temporary leader” remember?

      • james 4.1.2

        Little will take photo ops when they are there – its just that the media dont think him that important to photograph.

        • Leftie

          That’s not true James, the media know their place and have to promote John key, it will cost them their jobs otherwise.

          Besides wasn’t it a few years ago that John key hired his own official taxpayer-funded photographer and videographer to capture all his smiles and waves?

  5. Wensleydale 5

    It’s actually a gift from the heavens for National. Everyone’s talking about the rickety buildings in Wellington and the poor folk in Kaikoura, and no one’s talking about the ongoing housing crisis and the resulting swarms of homeless. This is a chance for Nick “Incompetent” Smith to shine (when he’s not telling the Pike River families to suck it up and move on), and Paula Bennett must be grinning like a loon.

    There’s nothing like a natural disaster to distract and deflect, distract and deflect…

    • ropata 5.1

      The National Party has been a major cause of the housing crisis, it is a disaster on a similar scale to the earthquakes, but poor people suffering in NZ are not a shocking enough headline.

      If someone’s fancy building falls down that’s big news. But 1000 kids have no breakfast and no shoes, that’s just another day in John Key’s neoliberal paradise.

      • Anne 5.1.1

        … but poor people suffering in NZ are not a shocking enough headline.

        It’s not that they’re not shocking enough but rather they are not National voters so they don’t count. It’s that simple…

  6. adam 6

    Just don’t talk about one, one, one. Just don’t mention pike river. Just don’t utter about the rail network. Just don’t point out they got so much wrong in Christchurch. Homelessness has fallen off the radar. All is forgiven for a utterly bereft and borderline corrupt government. What panama papers. What climate change.

    No, john key looks good on camera, go nz you good thing, our prime pony tail puller is helping, you feel safe with his usual spin. Who cares they will under fund a recovery, and that some people will miss out, that the price of doing business. And anyway it’s only the poor right, the under employed, those who should have pulled there sox up in the first place.

  7. Tarquin 7

    The person who did try to politicise things was Gareth Hughes trying to get more funding for RNZ using the earthquake as leverage the other day.

    • adam 7.1

      I’m going to call you on that Tarquin. Give me proof of what you are saying.

      • alwyn 7.1.1

        Too easy.
        Question 9 on Tuesday 15 November.
        You’ll have to skip through this a bit as the changes they have made to the Parliamentary website make it harder to be selective for a given question.
        Look here.
        The original question was
        “9. GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Will she join with me to acknowledge the work of all media in New Zealand, which is so important in times of natural disaster and crisis; if so, will she consider increasing our public broadcaster Radio New Zealand’s funding in Budget 2017?”
        Then he gets rather more pushy.

        • Tarquin

          Thanks Alwyn, been out just got back. Your thoughts Adam?

          • adam

            Is this is all you got, question time. How much more beltway can you get? I thought you had somthing substantial, but no, question time and an opposition doing it’s job.

            How sensitive you lot have got? Sad both of you, just sad. This is the time to be asking hard questions, from a government who has cut the budgets across the board. Imagine for one minute if you will, that RNZ was not broadcasting after the quack? How bad would that have been? But instead you get all touchy over a politician doing their job.

            • alwyn

              “How bad would that have been”.

              I must admit that I found out about the earthquake from the following media outlets, via their websites.
              NZ Herald
              Newshub (TV3).
              I didn’t get anything from Radio NZ.

              Would it have mattered if Radio NZ hadn’t been there?
              I don’t think so. As you so felicitously put it with your line “broadcasting after the quack” they merely quack like a love-sick duck.

              Meanwhile of course you are going to ignore the fact that Gareth did exactly what Tarquin said and that there was a complete answer to your request to “I’m going to call you on that Tarquin. Give me proof of what you are saying”.

              • Robertina

                Stuff in particular did a great job this week.
                But RNZ is essential in the immediate aftermath tsunami watch statutory duty stuff, and for coverage after the live-blogs finish.
                And did it occur to you that people who don’t have power for days or weeks can’t visit Stuff or NZ Herald, because their phones run out of battery, but they’re likely to have a battery-powered radio?
                Some news outlets moved away today from leading with earthquake coverage but it still led Checkpoint.
                No doubt John Campbell will be leading with this story long after it’s slipped off the front pages of Stuff and NZ Herald.
                Already Campbell has run a piece asking why the SH1 corridor was so fragile when a Govt report in 2010 said alternatives were needed for just this scenario.

              • William

                alwyn wrote
                “I must admit that I found out about the earthquake … via their websites.”

                Were you near enough to feel it?

                “Would it have mattered if Radio NZ hadn’t been there? I don’t think so. ”

                If you were near the epicentre of an earthquake (or other disaster) large enough to knock out the mains power supply you will be relying on radio for your information. Perhaps you should aquaint yourself with the Civil Defence recommendations


                second item on the list “Radio with spare batteries”.
                They even list the networks to listen to


                First on the list Radio NZ.

                Yet another myopic commenter that can’t see beyond their own immediate needs.

                • Muttonbird

                  Like all other RWNJs, he’s positionally against any kind of public broadcasting for some reason.

                • alwyn

                  I do live in Wellington you know.
                  The quake didn’t wake me up. I guess I must be one of the righteous and Proverbs 3:24 applies.
                  And yes I am well aware of the Civil Defence recommendations. I am probably a great better prepared than most. There are other radio networks you know. You don’t really have to listen to Radio New Zealand you know, even if it is now the home of the platitude spouting John Campbell.

                  • William

                    You may be confusing righteous with rightwing.
                    I know of two others that slept through it. One relies on sleeping pills to get to sleep, the other had over indulged in alcohol.
                    Being able to sleep through an earthquake with that level of shaking is potentially dangerous for your safety.

                    I very rarely listen to National Radio, I’ve never heard John Campbell there. I’ve also never listened to Mike Hosking or Paul Henry anywhere, but from what I’ve heard of their reputations I don’t have any trust that a network that hosts them would be providing correct information during an emergency.

              • Muttonbird

                No. RNZ was easily to go to website for live information in the early hours of Monday morning.

                That you were forced to rely on Stuff and the Herald says a lot about your selection of information sources.

              • Doogs

                Take a look, alwyn, at the “news” outlets you mentioned. Take a good hard look at them. Not one has an unbiased and even-handed approach to reporting. RNZ on the other hand almost always has.

                You are, as are most of the supporters of our corrupt and awful administration, not taking a balanced view. Then you take a self-correction typo and use it as a pathetic joke against adam, or tarquin, or whoever your aiming your shit at. Enough of the small-minded nit picking.

                BTW, how come the puffed with their own importance natzis didn’t also put on their announcement the logos of United Future, Act and the Maori Party. Make sense if they did. But, oh no, we have the droit de seigneur.

                They make me embarrassed, ashamed and sick to the core.

                • alwyn

                  “didn’t also put on their announcement the logos of United Future, Act and the Maori Party”.

                  Don’t be so silly. Are you suggesting that they should release announcements that purport to be made by other political parties?
                  Ask Mickysavage, who is apparently a lawyer, what the Labour Party would have to say if I issued a Press Release that I put a Labour Party logo on, and a statement that it had been authorised by whoever does that sort of thing for the Labour Party. and thereby appeared to be issuing an official opinion by the New Zealand Labour Party.
                  I really don’t think they would be terribly amused.

                  “They make me embarrassed, ashamed and sick to the core”.
                  You are clearly very easily upset. I suggest you keep well clear of politics.

          • mauī

            Much rather the party that knows its not all about them to be politicising an issue, than the self obsessed, win at all costs party.

          • Sacha

            “The person who did try to politicise things was”

            Which implies nobody else politicised something. Nice try.

  8. mary_a 8

    Question no 1 on Government’s Helpline …

    “Before proceeding to your request, how much are you prepared to donate to the National Party to receive assistance?”

    Followed by …

    – “People donating $1,000 or less will go into the queue to wait for notification of future assistance, which could stretch to several years.”
    – “People donating $5,000 – $9,000 will be contacted at a later date.”
    – “People donating $10,000 – $99,000 will receive a reply after the weekend.”
    – “People donating $100,000 to $500,000 will receive notification of a possible guarantee of assistance.”
    – “People donating $1,000,000 upwards will receive immediate attention without delay.”

  9. Brendon 9

    The other aspect of National politicizing the earthquake is how National get to be both generous and ‘fiscally sensible’ at the same time. It is kind of like the double message of dirty politics where Key gets to play good-cop while others played bad-cop.

    John Key is making vague promises to build back better SH1 and main trunk line transport corridors north and south of Kaikoura. Key gets a lot of feel good fuzzy’s from this and if following thru this would be a commitment of many, many $billions in infrastructure spending.

    Yet Bill English talks about how the rebuild will be funded by debt -not by extra taxes or a reallocation of infrastructure spending -such as cancelling or delaying a RoNS project -which was of course the National tactic for rebuilding Christchurch. Bill English gets to act all Mr Sensible Finance Minister-Man.

    Of course later on (and they know this now) -the financial imperatives of debt funding and the need to get back to surplus will be used as a excuse for cutting corners on the rebuild. We have seen it all before….

    Everyone should be looking at the man who holds the purse not the smooth talking guy with nice smile. If there is no extra money allocated, there will be no building back better….. despite the warm fuzzies Key is giving out.

  10. Sacha 10

    The government is making a good job of the earthquake response, informed by what we have all learned from Christchurch. Shame the Nat party is desperate enough to try to claim credit for that.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    You can’t blame the Nats for trying to look good for the cameras on this, any party in power would do the same.

    Nope, only the psychopathic/narcissistic ones do.

  12. mosa 12

    Quite frankly the earthquake coverage is bad enough and the effect on the people of Kaikoura and Wellington without having to endure Key greasing his way around more photo opportunities and bullshiting everyone he meets like the families of Pike River and telling them what they want to hear with no intention of carrying anything out he has just promised.

    The man has zero credibility and after 8 years he is still torturing the population.

  13. Neil 13

    One would think that with National claiming to be fiscally prudent managers of tax payers money, that the fiscally prudent thing to do would be to put the 20bn defence department spend up on hold & put that money into getting SH1 & the main trunk rail line back up & running, which in turn would have economic benefit to the earthquake affected areas & the country as a whole.

  14. Guerilla Surgeon 14

    Why should small businesses get subsidies? According to neoliberal theory which I assume they support, they should have taken out insurance.

  15. mosa 15

    Its that good old kiwi sense of entitlement that in this case small business feel they can put out their hand and be given government money, a bit like on a smaller scale with corporate welfare.

    Yet they will vote to deny others the same help in different situations.

    What a contradictory little country this is.

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    3 weeks ago

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  • Dual place names for Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula features
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  • Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings
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  • $80 million for sport recovery at all levels
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