A bouquet to the New Zealand Media – television, radio, the press – who have done such a superb job in bringing us coverage of the Canterbury earthquake and its aftermath. Informative, responsible, humane and never sensationalised. And a brickbat – well, you might have guessed it – to Paul Henry. Judy and I are speaking at a conference in Queenstown. We rarely watch breakfast television on any channel, but today we caught Paul Henry talking to Christchurch mayor Bob Parker. This, it turned out, was a case of the gracious meeting the crass. Parker’s concern is the human plight of the people he represents. Henry wants to know what will happen to those people who have not been ‘responsible’ enough to have insured their properties. The tone of the question quite clearly suggests that such people are undeserving of support. Parker replies to the effect that this is a community which will help everyone who has suffered. It’s not a matter of money.
Henry than wants to know whether Parker has been doing ‘a Rudy Giuliani’, whether he thinks this will improve his chances of retaining the mayoraly against Jim Anderton. Parker quite proplerly dismisses the question as inappropriate. But Henry can’t leave it alone. He tells Parker that he’s sounding like Giuliani [after the bombing of the World Trade Centre].It’s hard to find anything strong enough to say about the crassness of wanting to talk about whether uninsured people deserve to be helped or a public figure’s chances of re-election have been improved two days after an earthquake when you’re standing in the middle of a devastated city. My god, Paul, what else have you got in your compendium of horrors?