If you want a reason to bash your head against something hard then if you saw Paul Henry’s performance last night on his show it would surely have provide it. He very clearly set out the reason that so many of us were afraid about the recent numerous appointments of right wing commentators to positions of power. He provided a completely partisan inaccurate description of who is at fault for Christchurch’s floods. He denigrated Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel in a way that was totally unjustified and blamed her for the flooding clearly in a way designed to protect John Key from criticism.
The Press has reported a transcript of some of Henry’s comments:
Don’t just stand in the rain and look like a drenched rat … actually sort this out.
New Zealand is a developed country where people paid rates and taxes to mitigate against events like this.
But this is where the rubber hits the road … and it falls on the shoulders of Lianne Dalziel and her council.
James Dann has described the show as follows:
Last night, Paul Henry went on an extraordinary rant, placing all of the blame squarely at the sodden gumboots of Lianne Dalziel. Paul Henry knows about as much about the flooding situation in Christchurch as he does about race relations in India – i.e. nothing. I’ve never watched his show before, but was prompted by this rant. It’s as though he thinks he is a “man of the people” like stable-mate John Campbell, except instead of standing up for the little guy, he’s pushing the line for the big guy – his mate, the Prime Minister. It is Danyl McLauchlan’s description of how the PM’s office feeds the bottom-feeder blogs, except on a grand scale.
He judiciously cuts together footage to serve his narrative, rather than the truth. When Lianne says that she is dividing the task force into two, he screams “what does that even mean?” Well, Paul, as the presenter on what is theoretically a news show, maybe you could have done some research. But in lieu of that, I’ll explain it. The task force has been divided into two teams, one to look at the short term solution, and one to look at the long term resolution. We need both. We can’t have people going through this again, so we have to find a short term solution. But we also need to know whether this situation can be mitigated, by improving the drainage, raising the houses, or partial red-zoning. This takes more investigation, and has more serious implications for people’s primary asset, their homes. It makes sense to take some time with this.
First a very truncated description of the problem. Onenews has an informative video. The Canterbury earthquakes has caused sections around the Flockton Basin, just north of the Christchurch City Centre to drop by up half a metre. Dudley creek has also been affected and cannot drain water away as quickly as it used to. The flooding was caused by a combination of these effects and three “one in a hundred year storms” happening within a month. The frequency must be making people think that climate change is indeed occurring. Proposed solutions are work on Dudley Stream to improve its drainage and/or a pumping station to move water on quickly. The cost of a station is in the vicinity of $50 million dollars. Either option would take years to implement.
The herculean job of rebuilding a city and now dealing with incessant flooding problems would drain the most capable of local bodies. Christchurch needs all the help it can get.
You would think that the Government would step in and assist. There must be some actual or potential liability for the EQC to meet. Insurance companies are obviously also at risk. Urgent funding so that this work can be conducted should be a given.
But John Key has said that the Government cannot do anything until Council asks. It is funny that if increased water resources for farmers is involved then the Government will step in and sack a democratically elected organisation as well as pledging public money to make sure it happens but ordinary people having their houses flooded continuously attracts no such urgency. Apparently Key was in Christchurch yesterday but not for the clean up but for the sod turning on the Central Plains Water Scheme. How unfortunate is that timing.
The really worrying aspect is that Henry’s rant feels like it was somehow programmed. As commented by Russell Brown:
Okay, here’s what I think is going on.
National has been using Curia to poll on perceptions of Brownlee in Christchurch, which will be awful.
So they fly in Key to stand next to Brownlee and radiate chummy star power.
But they also need to shift some of the public ire from Brownlee, so briefings go out to the usual suspects putting the heat on Dalziel.
Dalziel, I am sure, would like some help and wants to collaborate on the crisis (why wouldn’t she?), but she’s not getting that for political reasons.
The whole thing is, in my humble opinion, a very, very cynical political game, at the expense of the people of Christchurch.
I am afraid that Russell may be right. This is going to be a long and brutal election campaign.