Armstrong on Earthquake response

September 11th, 2010 at 11:35 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

The Prime Minister would be less than human if he wasn’t disappointed at having to cancel his weekend engagement as the Queen’s guest at Balmoral Castle, the royal family’s residence in Scotland.

Such an invitation to a New Zealand prime minister is unprecedented and shows the degree of rapport has with the head of state.

I had also heard that indeed the PM and the Queen has developed a strong rapport. While I am a republican, I am also a big fan of the Queen’s integrity and sense of service – and like the idea that our Head of Government and Head of State get on very well.

This was the psyche of the one-time foreign exchange dealer prepared to take a calculated risk. Except in this case any benefit accruing from hob-nobbing with royalty would have been largely personal. And those pluses would have been totally outweighed by the minuses Key would have notched up back home.

I agree it would have been a very bad look to go ahead.

So far, National’s response to the crisis has been largely exemplary and criticism-free. The Government has been relentlessly single-minded in focusing on providing and co-ordinating a recovery strategy for . It has driven the public service to the limit in getting that strategy implemented.

High praise.

If anyone needs convincing that Christchurch is a city on edge, they need only replay Wednesday’s speech in Parliament by National backbencher Amy Adams.

The MP, whose Selwyn electorate encircles part of Christchurch, came closer than anyone so far in capturing the horror of last Saturday’s quake and the psychological anguish felt by many in the after shock-filled aftermath.

I blogged it yesterday. It really made it real for those of us lucky enough to be unaffected.

This is a climate which does not look kindly at penny-pinching by the state. The country is expecting generosity for those who have suffered. Saturday’s has loosened National’s purse strings.

Twice in two weeks – the first being the payout to depositors in South Canterbury Finance – Finance Minister Bill English has had to explain why the Government’s books are still “manageable” when he previously argued there was no room for more spending.

National would argue the extra spending is a matter of necessity, not choice. But it has undermined English’s pleas for restraint elsewhere, while making it harder for him to find the money for election-motivated giveaways in next year’s Budget.

I disagree. I think the spending on SCF and the earthquake makes it harder for people to argue extra spending elsewhere. Teachers look petty striking for free laptops, when the Government is spending its very limited funds on rebuilding Christchurch.

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11 Responses to “Armstrong on Earthquake response”

  1. kaya (1,360 comments) says:

    The merit of the earthquake support is indisputable, it does make the teachers look petty, however the SCF debacle is a completely different beast and gives the teachers an argument again.

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  2. Jack5 (4,231 comments) says:

    John Key has done a great job for Christchurch after the quake. Good man. Many of his Cabinet have also been excellent, including Joyce and Brownlee.

    Without helping kaya hijack the thread to keep the kudos off Key, re SCF….

    Once a guarantee is given it has to be honoured, and the guarantee was given under the Klark and Khullen’s Fifth Reich, though Klark and Khullen had no choice but to follow the herd with Australia and other partners rushing into guarantees. If unguaranteed Australian banks had whipped their cash off to Oz, NZ would have been stuffed. As for SCF, it had a clean audit (which should be the subject of a court martial) and an investment grade from a top international agency.

    But back to the quake. Key and his Cabinet have done a great job, and so, too, has Mayor Parker. The fact that he has shot well up in the mayoral election (according to Ipredict) means I can now safely and happily not vote to keep Anderton out, as I retain reservations about the Christchurch council’s spendaholic, undemocratic style over the last few years.

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  3. kowtow (6,734 comments) says:

    Said it before….but here goes again.

    NZ can be proud of it’s earthquake response. I think all arms of govt,the emergency services,health,sciences,community bodies,charities etc and not least the people of Chch themselves have behaved marvellously in rather extreme conditions.

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  4. Viking2 (10,746 comments) says:

    I retain reservations about the Christchurch council’s spendaholic, undemocratic style over the last few years.

    And you would vote for who? ANDERTON
    Bully, trougher and spender. extraordinaire

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  5. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    Thankfully there were well laid plans on Civil Defence. Full marks to all those involved in the detailed planning back in time.

    A huge cheer for all those who swung into action to help, and our feelings for hope, are with all those affected.

    TG no great loss of life or limb was experienced. Hopefully this 10,000 year even has passed.

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  6. Jack5 (4,231 comments) says:

    Viking2 posted at 1.33:

    …And you would vote for who? ANDERTON

    Nope. You don’t have to vote for either.

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  7. kaya (1,360 comments) says:

    Jack5 – Read what I said properly before getting on your hobby horse.

    I wasn’t hijacking the thread, David linked SCF to Key and the Nats as a positive and said it “makes it harder for people to argue extra spending elsewhere. ”
    I disagree. I think the bailout of investors in SCF gives ammunition to those looking for money whether pay rises or funding for other shit. There argument would be “If you can pay out private investors/speculators you can find money for us”. It was on topic.
    As for your other comments re “having to follow the herd”, “too big to fail” blah blah, if I hear that much more I’m going to puke. It’s the same scaremonger tactics as Dubya and his WMDs. Now that does belong on another thread so we’ll leave it till then. I look forward to debating it.

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  8. kiwi in america (2,336 comments) says:

    kaya
    The SCF bailout was inevitable sadly. You create a priviledged class ofinvestments by a Treasury guarantee and then you price your product 2%+ above the banks then you create a new $500m inflow of cash from retirees dependent on fixed term deposit income. SCF did not have the rural borrower base to soak up that huge inflow of new funds. Unloaned cash is a killer to any finance company so the pressure was on to loan to new (and riskier) borrowers. Hubbard’s down home informal management controls were fine for a small provincial finance company 20 years ago but were never up to the rigours and standards required in the modern era and for a billion dollar lender. It was inevitable that the new riskier loans would tip over this already flawed entity triggering the guarantee.

    SCF should NEVER have been made part of the scheme Labour hurriedly put in place for the banks. National had no choice under the Deeds of the Guranatee to make good on the deposits. You can argue that the inclusion of the overseas depositors (some $20m) added unncessarily to the bill as they were not legally covered but the need to give the receivers total control over the entire book was a cleaner option that will make the orderly disposal of the assets a lot easier.

    The earthquake spending is in a whole new category of spending that rises above all other political considerations as the disaster is of a magnitude that dwarfs all other financial and political considerations.

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  9. DeepScience (74 comments) says:

    “Teachers look petty striking for free laptops, when the Government is spending its very limited funds on rebuilding Christchurch.”

    That’s a rather naieve perspective. The Government is rolling out broadband to schools first. To say they should stop doing that and spend it on rebuilding Christchurch is bizarre. You don’t stop everything to manage an Earthquake when the idea is to get everything working as normal. And you can’t use broadband on a rubber band, it… needs… a… computer.

    Currently teachers and schools have to pay a fair bit of the costs of using computers in their job. This is not fair or equitable on schools and teachers less able to buy their own computers for work. Currently funds that should be available for student resources are tied up with computers that are necessary for the job just because the past Labour governments had no clue as to modernising education. It’s a silly idea that when one stumps up to work they tell you to bring your own PC in and leave it with them for a month so they can install stuff on it before they give it back and you can use it for your job. No business or Government department works that way. Very few will spend the 5k that I did for laptop and projector. Or do you want teachers to go back to using 1980′s VHS videos from Australia? “I am glass, some people want to shoot me, but I am bullet proof.”

    Didn’t John Key just give himself a 10% pay rise and Kiwiblog was a proud supporter of it?

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  10. mavxp (490 comments) says:

    Guy Fawkes said: “Hopefully this 10,000 year even has passed.”

    Try 500 year event. 10,000 would have resulted in not many buildings left standing. The lack of deaths was as much to do with good modern building design as it was to the hour of the earthquake being 4:30AM, when everyone was safely tucked up in bed.

    It was a significant, but moderate level of shaking, and the length of shaking much less than what we expect for an Alpine Fault rupture – which according to geologists we are still due. Lets not be complacent.

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  11. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    THE single most important lesson to take from the earthquake is to ensure Hide, Douglas and ACT never ever get near building regulations with their “market knows best” mantra.

    The buildings that fell down, were in the main, older and decaying ones the market had decided were not worth strengthening.

    Stronger planning laws to prevent further development in areas like Bexley are required, not free marketeering cowboys.

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