‘Shambolic’ National’s Luxon slams Govt’s decision to shut schools
National leader Christopher Luxon believes the government has been “absolutely shambolic” in its communication with schools and parents about the decision to close all Auckland schools and early learning centers for the week due to widespread flooding.
Luxon, speaking from the office of North Shore electorate and Nationals MP Simon Watts in Takapuna, said it was understandable why some would have to close, but pointed to others in areas such as East Auckland where closure might not be necessary. given minimal flood damage.
“I think the communication was very poor,” Luxon said.
“Is it on, is it off, what’s happening?”
He said his own frustration was reflected in his conversations with parents.
Asked what he would have done differently, Luxon said it shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. He said areas such as Papakura and East Auckland that were not affected should have their schools open.
Standing alongside Watts and local National Party member Dan Bidois, Luxon said he had spent today witnessing the damage caused by the flooding that began on Friday.
He reinforced his belief that the state of emergency in Auckland should have been declared earlier and that there was a vacuum of leadership in the early moments of the storm on Friday.
He said the processes for emergency management need to be strengthened to ensure that the response is quick and efficient, something he has seen overseas.
Asked if he thought Mayor Wayne Brown was competent, Luxon didn’t speculate, but referred to the review that would begin after the flood.
Regarding the flooding impact on the North Coast, Luxon said he and Watts were in Sunnynook yesterday and the “devastation was complete”.
He said it was “incredibly devastating” for people to endure flood damage while also suffering a cost of living crisis.
An aerial view of Stanley Point, Devonport in Auckland, shows the impact of record rainfall on the city. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Luxon said today he had seen a continuation of people cleaning up and no more heavy rain yet, but admitted more was forecast for areas north of Auckland later this afternoon.
When asked if the flooding and its impact would change National’s policy on climate change, Luxon said he personally had no illusions that climate change would bring more severe weather.
He referred to National’s established positions on climate change, but his comments did not indicate that the current flood would prompt changes to the party’s perspective.
His message to Aucklanders was the assurance that he knew how difficult it was for Aucklanders after seeing what they were struggling with. However, he said it was also inspiring to see New Zealanders at their very best when they go the extra mile to help those in need.
A heavy rain warning is currently in place for Northland until 04:00 tomorrow. In Auckland north of Orewa, a similar warning will be in place from 5pm today until 8am tomorrow.
The MetService warning is predicting 80 to 120 millimeters of rain with some areas at risk of experiencing 25-40mm per hour.
An orange warning was also in place for the rest of Auckland from 8pm tonight until 10am tomorrow and for Bay of Plenty west of Whakatane from 3am tomorrow until 9pm tomorrow.
The unprecedented rainfall had the potential to further overwhelm Auckland’s stormwater infrastructure and worsen flooding in already drenched suburbs.
The flooding, which began on Friday, has resulted in around 400 properties in Auckland being red or yellow tagged – meaning they are unsafe to enter or can only be entered temporarily or through a specific access point.
Luxon has been based in Auckland for the last few days, where he has been surveying flood damage and assisting with clean-up efforts.
Luxon and the National Party were dealt a blow last night by two polls indicating that Hipkins’ ascension to Labor leader and Prime Minister has increased the left-wing party’s public support.
Labour’s Chris Hipkins and National’s Christopher Luxon are neck and neck according to the latest polls. Photo / Mark Mitchell
In the 1News Kantar Public poll, Labor rose five percentage points to 38 percent, as National fell 1 point to 37.
According to the preferred prime minister, Hipkins went straight from zero to 23 per cent – while Jacinda Ardern immediately dropped to just five per cent. Luxon fell slightly to 22 percent as preferred PM.
According to the Newshub Reid Research poll, Labor rose almost six points to 38 per cent and National fell 4.1 points to 36.6 per cent.
Hipkins again topped the Prime Minister’s preferred premiums, with 19.6 per cent, while Luxon dropped 2.7 points to 18.8 per cent.
When asked if they trusted the major party leaders, 52.9 percent of respondents said they trusted Hipkins while 26.9 percent said no.
For Luxon, meanwhile, only 36.9 percent trusted him, while 43.8 percent said they did not.