Last week, Labour MP Ruth Dyson highlighted the case of Dot Boyd, an 85-year-old woman still waiting for EQC to make basic repairs to her home three years after the Christchurch earthquake. When confronted with a case like this, you'd expect the Minister responsible - in this case Gerry Brownlee - to promise swift corrective action to resolve the problem. Instead, Brownlee accused Dyson of "political manipulation" and laziness, claiming that Labour MPs had lodged only five requests for assistance for their constituents.
Yesterday, we learned that that was all a lie, and that EQC had given Brownlee incorrect information:
A humiliated Gerry Brownlee has apologised to Labour MPs he sledged over their workrate on behalf of earthquake victims and says he feels let down by EQC.
Brownlee confirmed yesterday that he had discovered that Boyd may be the tip of the iceberg after EQC identified a further 85 cases where vulnerable elderly people had been left in limbo while waiting on a decision.
He had also just learnt that Boyd's plight was raised eight months ago with EQC by Labour but no action was taken.
There are two points worth making here. Firstly and most obviously, something is seriously wrong at EQC. Either they deliberately lied to their Minister out of malice at MPs who had been criticising them, or they are deliberately undercounting (by requiring that they be classified as "formal") or simply losing complaints. Neither is acceptable, and heads need to roll for it. Secondly, there's Brownlee. He claims in the Stuff story linked above to have not believed EQC's number and queried it. Yet despite that, he went out guns blazing with a personal attack on MPs for daring to represent their constituents against his bureaucracy. That's a particularly ugly bully that we've got there, and one with a distinct lack of interest in the truth. Which invites the question: if he's so slack about the truth in political matters, where it could come back to bite him messily and damage his career, how much attention do you think he pays to it in his portfolio, where its merely other people's lives and homes and futures on the line?