Gerry Brownlee’s rude, dismissive interview on Radio New Zealand this morning (here, from 16 minutes 30 seconds in) shows that the stress of the job is starting to get to him, says Labour’s Ilam candidate James Macbeth Dann. “In dismissing the valid questions of the interviewer, Brownlee left the people of Christchurch wondering exactly where the truth lies. Nothing is more important to people than the health of themselves and their family. There are some serious questions to be answered about the prevalence of asbestos in the rebuild, and people have a right to expect answers from the Minister.”

“This is a Minister who continues to deny that there is a housing crisis in the city, that the earthquakes had anything to do with the flooding in the Flockton basin, and is now questioning the Christchurch medical officer of health’s integrity.”

“The last three and a half years have been hugely stressful for everyone in Canterbury, and the Minister isn’t immune from that. If the stress is starting to affect the way he carries out his role as Earthquake Minister, then the PM should tell him to take a week off, like he did for Minister Collins. Maybe he could use the time to hit the streets of Ilam and reconnect with the people he represents. He’ll find that there are people in suburbs like Aorangi and Jellie Park that are doing it hard, struggling to cover the rent, to keep their families fed and warm.”

“I think it is also worth thanking the medical officer of health, Alistair Humphrey, for pursuing this issue. Asbestos can lead to very serious health issues in the future, and it is important that we look to prevent any exposure now, or the cost on the public health system will be much more extensive in years to come.”