Despite high earthquake costs, Key says country can deal with it

EDITORIAL

A week after the devastating earthquake that has ravaged the South Island and central New Zealand it is time to take stock, and the situation is not good.

Kaikoura, the worst-hit area, relies heavily on tourism and was looking forward to a brilliant season of whale watching, which attracts 100,000 tourists a year, 80 percent from overseas.

Whale Watch has been flooded with inquiries from people asking if they should cancel their visit. Worse, there is the possibility that the whole New Zealand tourism industry could suffer. New Zealand has had two huge earthquakes in less than a decade and its image overseas must be affected.

Conversely, tourists may redirect themselves to areas that they perceive as safe which would be cruel on Kaikoura but would allay some of the harm.

The country faces a huge bill. Just restoring the road and rail links to Kaikoura will cost hundreds of millions and the final quake damage total will be measured in billions.

Then there is the surprising situation in the capital where a number of buildings have had to be evacuated and one is reported to be marked for demolition. This is mystifying to many people as it was thought that the new earthquake building requirements brought in after the Christchurch earthquakes should have prevented this.

The unexpected financial bill may dampen the chances of a budget surplus making tax cuts possible. Finance minister Bill English has already issued a statement saying people should not expect a windfall.

Prime Minister John Key told the Herald on Sunday that he was proud of the way local communities and emergency services had reacted to the quake.

He said people should take great confidence in the fact that the government’s books were in good order and the country has the capacity to deal with this earthquake.

Key is right to reassure the country because people are nervous and anxious. The aftermath from this disaster will continue for a long time yet.

A week after the devastating earthquake that has ravaged the South Island and central New Zealand it is time to take stock, and the situation is not good.

Kaikoura, the worst-hit area, relies heavily on tourism and was looking forward to a brilliant season of whale watching, which attracts 100,000 tourists a year, 80 percent from overseas.

Whale Watch has been flooded with inquiries from people asking if they should cancel their visit. Worse, there is the possibility that the whole New Zealand tourism industry could suffer. New Zealand has had two huge earthquakes in less than a decade and its image overseas must be affected.

Conversely, tourists may redirect themselves to areas that they perceive as safe which would be cruel on Kaikoura but would allay some of the harm.

The country faces a huge bill. Just restoring the road and rail links to Kaikoura will cost hundreds of millions and the final quake damage total will be measured in billions.

Then there is the surprising situation in the capital where a number of buildings have had to be evacuated and one is reported to be marked for demolition. This is mystifying to many people as it was thought that the new earthquake building requirements brought in after the Christchurch earthquakes should have prevented this.

The unexpected financial bill may dampen the chances of a budget surplus making tax cuts possible. Finance minister Bill English has already issued a statement saying people should not expect a windfall.

Prime Minister John Key told the Herald on Sunday that he was proud of the way local communities and emergency services had reacted to the quake.

He said people should take great confidence in the fact that the government’s books were in good order and the country has the capacity to deal with this earthquake.

Key is right to reassure the country because people are nervous and anxious. The aftermath from this disaster will continue for a long time yet.

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Mary-Ann de Kort - 2 years ago
There have been more than two big quakes over the last decade but luckily much of NZ is sparsely populated so there has been little property or infrastructure damage for all but Christchurch, Kaikoura and Wellington.
Thank goodness we have been saving out of a compulsory component in our insurance premiums for the past 80 years since the Napier earthquake - right?
It is therefore a wee bit puzzling to find there is nothing left in the EQC account even before parts of Christchurch have been fixed with the government needing to dip into the general fund to cover the latest events.
The books were in better order 6 years ago when the Christchurch quake happened but now we have billions more taxpayer debt and fewer profit bearing assets than we used to.
People, NGOs and the maraes are great and try their hardest to look after one another and those who have been dispossessed and homeless but that is only a temporary fix.
Big ticket items need urgent attention as well and shouldn't take six years.

Niels Zindel - 2 years ago
The Government is not being honest with the people; sanitising everything never works. Do lies continually need to be told to get elected? The country can't afford tax cuts, the earthquake or much else.

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