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BBC blast boomerangs on Barker

Hon Dr Nick Smith MP National Party Acting Civil Defence Spokesman

05 May 2006

BBC blast boomerangs on Barker

"The Civil Defence Minister should apologise to BBC World television after blaming them for his department's botched handling of yesterday's tsunami warning," says the National Party's acting Civil Defence spokesman, Nick Smith.

"It turns out that like everyone else, the BBC couldn't raise anyone at Civil Defence. Rick Barker should stop trying to blame the media and accept that he and his department were caught napping."

Yesterday Mr Barker told Parliament 'the BBC is at fault', the 'BBC got the situation exactly wrong', and 'the media have a responsibility to report matters accurately. They did not do so on this occasion'. He went so far as to say the BBC's management of the information 'was appalling'.

But, according to reports this morning, the Beehive's emergency bunker was activated only after calls from a radio station, and other attempts to raise a response were answered by a machine.

"This is simply not good enough. Mr Barker has failed in his primary responsibility as Minister to keep the country prepared for the worst.

"He is effectively telling New Zealanders that civil defence emergencies can happen only during office hours. Well, I shouldn't need to tell the Minister this, but disasters don't watch the clock," says Dr Smith.


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