It was inevitable that Farrar would do this, although I really hoped he wouldn’t. His post criticising Chris Carter for being in Samoa is a shameless attempt to make political capital off tragedy.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Winne Laban headed to Samoa to assist her family there. Carter went as her support person, the two are close I understand. He did not go there to be Labour Foreign Affairs spokesperson. Once there, Laban and Carter offered any assistance they could be to the Samoan Government and the New Zealand High Commission. They have reported back confidentially to Murray McCully on the situation to assist the Government.
This has not been disaster tourism by Carter, it began as a genuine effort to help first his friend and then the people in need they have encountered. He and Laban have sought to be of any assistance they can. Contrary to Farrar’s claim, they have not tried to politicise the issue or criticise the government. They are there helping.
Farrar gleefully quotes the Herald on Sunday:
“Chris Carter slyly attempting to make political capital out of the disaster by telling the Government how it should respond was slightly distasteful”
The Herald on Sunday is wrong and it too is trying to score petty political points in a tragedy. Read Carter and Laban’s twitter thread. Where is the criticism of National? The only thing that could possibly be read that way is Carter’s comment that it’s a pity there’s no room on RNZAF flights to bring in volunteers to help the clean-up. What the Twitter thread actually shows two people in positions of responsibility, trying to help people in need however they can. And any attempt to second-guess them is just politicking.
Immediately after the tragedy struck Samoa, the authors of The Standard agreed we would not try to play petty politics with the disaster. We might stand over Key’s shoulder ready to criticise every mis-step when he’s in New York and we might examine Bill’s dealings in minute detail but that approach would be completely inappropriate in this situation.
The two times this site has referred to the Government’s response in Samoa have been complimentary and encouraging, not critical. We know that the New Zealand government, including its elected officials, do genuinely want to help Samoa as best they can. There has been none of the neglect that we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that would be legitimate basis for criticism. Any criticism would be nitpicking and arise from a crass desire to score political points.
I am utterly appalled that Farrar has sunk to that level. Appalled but not surprised.
The Standard will not be following suit.