Chris Baillie

“Government Minister Michael Wood has jumped on the gaslighting bandwagon, telling the victims of Cyclone Gabrielle that he knows better than them,” says ACT’s Police spokesperson Chris Baillie.

“Wood was answering questions on behalf of Police Minister Stuart Nash in Parliament. When asked by ACT whether he agreed with a local resident who said “The gangs are coming in, or looters in general. They’re threatening people, stealing their stuff. We are very scared, people are very scared.”

“Instead of showing any compassion, or believing victims on the ground, he dismissed him and accused victims and the Opposition of creating hysteria.

“Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise told media there is not a strong enough Police presence.

“Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce CEO Karla Lee told Newstalk ZB “I don’t believe there is enough help at hand… we could use more help from Police and Armed Forces definitely.”

“Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, Police Minister Stuart Nash and Michael Wood have all told them they’re wrong and that they know better.

“Some people have lost almost everything, and they’re terrified of losing their remaining few possessions. Whether their fear is founded or not, that’s the perception they have and they deserve to see an increased police presence.

“Telling people they’re wrong is not good enough.

“More than 600 Police were sent to the Parliament protest and yet only a fraction of that has been sent to Hawke’s Bay.

“More than 6,200 Defence Personnel were involved in MIQ and yet the Napier Mayor has had her requests for military assistance turned down. How can the government justify having the army available to stand at hotel doors but not out in a cyclone ravaged community?

“The Police Commissioner needs to ask the Prime Minister to invoke Section 9 of the Defence Act. This means the military can assist the Police with civil powers. Looting gangsters might not think they’re so tough when they meet the NZDF.

“Police on the ground are doing a great job with the resources they have but they need more back up. Ministers may think they know better, but at times like this people need empathy and security, they’re providing neither and making what is an already stressful situation even worse.”