Armstrong on Earthquake response

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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