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New Zealanders need to save themselves

(for immediate release)

Thursday, 23 March 2006

New Zealanders Need To Save Themselves

Disaster survival experts critical of political point-scoring

One of New Zealand's largest disaster survival companies is upset at political point scoring at the expense of civil defence.

Greg Blanchard, Managing Director of Community Emergency Supplies Ltd, says National MP John Carter is not helping by raising fears in communities about lack of help in a disaster.

The National Party has said New Zealand would be 'in a shambles' if a large scale natural disaster were to hit.

'The best that we can do to prepare for disaster is become as resilient as possible,' says Blanchard, 'If we sit on our chuffs and rely on government to charge in and rescue us ' as Mr Carter seems to suggest ' then it will be a shambles. What we need is politicians with an understanding of the real issues and a desire to work with communities and individuals to role model positive attitudes.'

Mr Blanchard believes people who have ready access to the media - such as politicians - should be highlighting positive messages to inspire and motivate New Zealanders to become more involved in their own preparedness.

'Naysayers and harbingers of doom and gloom are often ignored by the public: often they come across as having a separate, personal, agenda,' says Blanchard, 'As soon as I heard John Carter this morning on National Radio, having a go at the Ministry of Civil Defence, I thought ?Great, there goes another few thousand people who are switching off from the positive messages of being prepared?.'

Mr Blanchard is concerned that the squabbles at the top will distract ordinary New Zealanders from getting on with the task of personal preparedness.

'If you examine the Act [Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002] you will find that regional and local government are the ones responsible for reduction, readiness, response, and recovery. The whole point of the Act was to give more local control and planning to the territorial authorities - if that isn't decentralisation then we must be reading from separate dictionaries!'

Mr Blanchard suggests if politicians are concerned about the threat of disaster (which they should be), and they want to do something constructive (which they ought to do), then they should work together in a bipartisan fashion, set a good example to the citizenry of New Zealand, and leave the political point scoring for the debating chamber.

Meanwhile, everyone else is getting on with the job of being prepared.


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