Gerry Brownlee's flippant and ignorant attitude to the issues revealed by this week's earthquakes is unworthy of a government minister responsible for protecting New Zealanders during disasters, says Labour's Civil Defence spokesperson Clare Curran.
"This week's earthquakes revealed the urgent need for Geonet to be funded for 24 hour staffing and for a national emergency tsunami warning system. Many New Zealanders were left unsure of whether there was a tsunami risk in their area and what they should do.
“Many New Zealanders who could have been affected by a tsunami slept through the earthquake and did not know it had occurred until the next morning. At issue is how quickly the information is analysed and warnings disseminated around the country in ways that ensure those in affected areas of a potential tsunami are alerted and warned what to do.
“It is simply unacceptable that six years after the Canterbury earthquakes these matters have not been addressed.
"Mr Brownlee's arrogant behaviour towards the importance of a 24/7 Geonet service shows he either doesn't understand the issues or doesn't take them seriously. Lives are at stake. People need clear, timely information if there is a tsunami risk. Yet Mr Brownlee says feeling the earthquake is all people need to know. It would be ridiculous if it wasn't so dangerous.
“The Minister has revealed today that the public may have to wait 18 months for a national emergency alert system, clearly unaware that his own Ministry has a system ready to go which it has recently shelved.
"It is clear that National has been underfunding our emergency response just as does other vital public services like health and police. The cost of 24 hour staffing for Geonet is miniscule compared to the lives it could save. If an emergency response system exists and it works why aren’t we using it? National seems more focused on penny-pinching and obfuscating than protecting Kiwis", says Clare Curran.