As the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle starts to be fully understood, it is going to force the government into making some unpalatable decisions that will affect its re-election chances. But they are decisions that will have to be made, and made sooner rather than later.

In an article we published on the weekend we heard from Nick Stewart, who lives in the Hawke’s Bay, just how much damage there is, not only to public infrastructure but also to private housing, farming and agriculture. The orchard industry in the region is worth approximately $6 billion to New Zealand in exports. That is now almost completely destroyed.

I know of one orchardist who has lost more than 100 hectares of apple trees. There are many other tales like this. Vineyards are buried under metres of silt, the Esk Valley is destroyed and many other agricultural production business are devastated.

That’s all before we start looking at the destroyed and flooded houses. There are thousands of displaced householders, who will no doubt start wondering just why it was that local councils allowed houses to be built where they were. How on earth are all those houses going to be replaced by a government that could barely build 2000 houses in six years?

Liam Dann writes in the NZ Herald:

The costs of the cyclone are sadly going to change the economic path of the nation.

The timing is cruel.

The post-pandemic economic recovery was in the balance even before these events.

Now it looks harder, more complex and the outcome more difficult to forecast.

Economists have only just begun to count the cost of the cyclone and have been rightly wary of making specific estimates.

The full scale of the disaster is still becoming apparent.

It probably suffices to say this is going to cost multiple billions. It looks increasingly like it will require the Government to make some big fiscal decisions about spending and borrowing.

The final bill may never be known.

The early estimates for the rebuild costs after the Christchurch earthquake were around $10 billion.

By 2013 that had risen to $40b. After that, we kind of stopped counting.

Conversely, initial back-of-the-envelope calculations for the economic impact of pandemic lockdowns and border closures were far too negative.

Every disaster is different and, even if they have similarities, the state the economy is in when they hit makes a big difference to their final impact.

The Christchurch earthquake rebuild provided economic stimulus at a time when we were still living in the shadow of the Global Financial Crisis.

The construction sector was in the doldrums and inflation was near record lows. The economy had enough spare capacity to respond.

That’s not the case now. Inflation is still running hot and, unfortunately, another shock to supply chains, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, will only make it worse.

The building and construction sector was just starting to show signs of cooling off, on the back of falling house prices.

It will now be back at full capacity, keeping costs elevated for longer.

NZ Herald

Grant Robertson may not be saying anything right now, but he will have ordered Treasury to put the budget he was going to deliver in a few weeks into the shredder.

The government has beggared the nation with their Covid Recovery Fund that was spent on an awful lot of dud projects, some of which will have been washed down the rivers of Hawke’s Bay and the East Coast.

The government has promised many big ticket items in coming years and that is all going to have to fall by the wayside as we start to look at replacing roading from Coromandel to the Hawke’s Bay, housing hundreds if not thousands of families who will need to be relocated from land that never should have had houses on it in the first place, replacing critical infrastructure to facilitate transport and communications and alleviating the immediate suffering of people displaced by the cyclone.

Things are going to have to be cancelled.

There can be no justifying a bike bridge across the Waitemata or a light rail link to Auckland Airport, when people can’t even drive from Napier to Hastings, or access parts of the Coromandel.

The Government should be looking closely at the near billion dollars Police are spending building their new business unit called Te Tari Pureke – Firearms Safety Authority. The gun register should be cancelled immediately, justified as nice-to-have spending that has to go to finance the recovery. It was never going to work anyway, so this allows Police to abandon the project without any shame. Just cancel it.

Who needs a Symphony Orchestra, a Ballet Company, National Radio, a Concert Programme and a plethora of other arts funding when people haven’t even got a house to live in. If the few hundred people who listen to Concert Programme really moan, then buy them a Spotify account.

There are many, many wasteful government-spending programmes that similarly should be axed. If anyone complains then pillory them as uncaring selfish cads who should be doing their bit to help the clean up and recovery.

One big ticket item that should be immediately cancelled are our payments under the Paris Accord for climate change. Sorry, you Green numpties, but that cash is needed at home to clean up the damage that your continued push for more forestry has caused with tonnes and tonnes of slash destroying the infrastructure.

We should also can all the subsidies and the push for electric cars. They have been of no use whatsoever during this crisis along with anything else electric. The awesome power and utility of fossil fuels is clear for anyone to see other than the blinkered Green wombles who were probably thankful emergency services hadn’t gone all green on them just when they were needed.

Cancel the oil and gas ban: reverse all those stupid policies. Utilise New Zealand’s natural resources to help fund the recovery and provide us with energy security at the same time. We are going to need those diesel powered trucks, diggers, 4WDs, graders, bulldozers and equipment for quite some time, as well as millions of tonnes of bitumen. The Road to Carbon Zero should be bulldozed as well.

There really is no other choice, but watch this Labour Government try to borrow and spend their way out of the pickle their profligate ways during Covid caused.

Time to make drastic economic changes, and make them now.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...