Hamish McKay: The Cyclone Gabrielle silence is deafening

Hamish McKay: The Cyclone Gabrielle silence is deafening

OPINION: It’s been nearly 6 months since a weather event proved just how fragile and vulnerable we are. Cyclone Gabrielle, directly and indirectly changed the lives of tens of thousands. Forever. But are we doing enough? Or, because it’s no longer on our telly screens 24/7, have we forgotten? 

Farmers were facing enough before Gabrielle. But has this Government's long-term attack on our farmers shown any sign of abating as they deal with a monumental crisis?

Or have the ravages of Cyclone Gabrielle just been swept under the carpet of a now-defunct Carpet mill in Napier? 

To be fair, under Chippy, perhaps to a degree there has been some ‘stopping the rot’.  Especially now David Parker has made himself a toothless Lion in a caucus that leaks and undermines itself more than in the final days of The Beatles. 

What we do know is that 6 months ago the last thing farmers needed was sequestration, nitrogen, water, and so on “rammed” down their throats… never mind ridiculous farm inflation and interest rates, all the while their major asset has dropped 30% in value in the last 12 months. 

Obviously, Mitigation has its place, but it must be balanced by putting in place the infrastructure to address the ongoing weather events…. And get farmers back on their feet. 

So I ask what is this government doing? 

It took COVID to recognise what is the backbone of the NZ economy. We are world leaders in low-emission protein production. And we can do better. 

But right now, Chris Hipkins, you need to pull back even harder. Ask yourself, have you read the room? Are you throwing the kitchen sink at this? Denying stories of looting and the like wasn’t your finest hour.

Prime Minister don’t go missing on this.  

Finally, a colleague of mine argued that the Gabrielle story has run its course. It’s just the way it is, they said. Life moves on. To which I replied, how is this different to the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake? That tragedy stayed in our living rooms for a decade. A story every other night. But it seems we’ve forgotten those ravaged by Gabrielle. 

A government too busy trying to save its own hide, and a mainstream media in some cases too lazy to ensure this national tragedy remains at the forefront of our national conscience!