Gerry Brownlee says an announcement on Christchurch’s land will be made “very, very soon” but testily refuses to give a date, or even a real timeframe. I have a sinking feeling this is all a PR exercise. Just as Brownlee has got everyone really agitated, that Nice Man Mr Key will unveil the information. When it fits into his diary, of course.
I am struggling to come up with any reason for Brownlee’s appearance on Morning Report yesterday, or Q+A and The Nation on the weekend, other than to antagonise people. He gave no information and got shirty just at being asked to. It was as if he was taken by surprise, three days in a row, that questioners would ask him about when he would announce which land will be rebuilt and which will be abandoned. Now, surely that wasn’t the case, which means his responses were planned.
National has played this game repeatedly in the past. The minister or some government proxy like the 2025 Taskforce does the scare job to lower public expectations. Then, just when public angst is reaching a fever pitch, in Key rolls, who beats the lowered expectations and everyone is expected to fawn.
It looks like the announcement on Christchurch’s land will be made when Key gets back from whatever important work he is doing in Australia. His weekly trip to Christchurch will be on Thursday, and that’s surely when he will reveal which areas will be saved and which won’t.
Of course, that must mean the information is already decided and known by senior ministers like Key and Brownlee but is being held back until Key’s diary opens up. This is government by showmanship, the practical concerns of the people in need come very much second to fitting things in to Key’s schedule for PR purposes.
There’s no denying it’s been effective politics in the past. But playing politics with the hopes and fears of the people of Christchurch’s Eastern suburbs as your pawns is surely a step too far.