Having declared he would be “absolutely focussed” on the cost-of-living crisis, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has another crisis even more pressing on his hands, and perhaps longer lasting, as the country reels under the ravages of Cyclone Gabrielle.
New Zealanders could scarcely credit what they were seeing when television news programmes presented the visual evidence of the damage wrought by the storm.
In the hardest-hit regions, thousands of homes were plunged into darkness, and hundreds of people had to be rescued from the roofs of their homes as flood waters raced past. In Auckland 80 roads had to be closed.
Restoration of damaged homes will put a strain on the already over-stretched building industry, just as the government’s own resources will be stretched in rebuilding bridges that were swept away and restoring the roading system throughout many regions that suffered extensive damage.
Clearly the PM, and the Minister of Emergency Management, Kieran McAnulty, were justified in over-ruling officials to declare a state of national emergency. It is only the third time in the country’s history this has been done and it gives the government the power not just to support the regions, but to provide the additional resources those regions will need.
The frailties of much of the country’s infrastructure were exposed, not least in the electricity system when a sub-station in Hawke’s Bay was so damaged it left much of the region in darkness.
Some are already questioning what happens to people living in homes on floodplains, on cliff edges or by the coast Who pays for the roads and pipes that serve these homes, especially as people start to move away, leaving costly infrastructure serving fewer and fewer homes?
This will be a challenge for all political parties which will have to study the issues and prepare answers both constructive and somehow properly priced.
The need to plan an orderly retreat from climate change-threatened areas has been kicking around for more than a decade.
As the NZ Herald has pointed out, this issue was placed on the Government’s agenda after the Zero Carbon Bill negotiations wrapped up when Tony Randerson delivered his recommendations on what the Government should do with the beleaguered Resource Management Act (RMA).
Randerson recommended a scheme that involved long-term spatial planning, looking into the future 30 years and seeing what sort of areas should be developed, what sort of infrastructure would be needed and what environments would be protected.
The latest storm has injected a new urgency on politicians to tackle the issue.
Will Hipkins and his team be up to it?
So far, their response has brought praise, even from opponents. ACT leader David Seymour told AM it is hard to fault a Government “trying to react as quickly as possible like everybody else as the waters rose and their homes were in danger”.
The risks—and the rewards—of what happens now are incalculable.
2 thoughts on “Risks – and rewards – are high as Hipkins and his team begin the task of reconstruction”
I’m not sure why their response has brought praise, because they haven’t done anything except turn up, act sympathetic, declare a state of emergency, and promised to spend more taxpayers money (in my cynical opinion, to buy votes again – which has been their consistent modus operandi). I could be wrong, they may actually take effective action and help people without wasting money and favouring their elite pressure groups. And pigs might take flight internationally.
By “climate change” I assume you mean “anthropomorphic climate change”.
But has this been proven?
For example, has the allowed space for debate on anthropomorphic climate change been more robust than the bullshit permitted space for debate on the pandemic and associated responses – including the bullshit vaccines?
I have absolutely zero faith in the leaders of this country to make decisions based on actual evidence. Over the course of the pandemic, they have proven themselves to be a pack of fascist clowns.