National Party leader Christopher Luxon is urging bipartisan support for more investment in infrastructure and climate adaptation after Cyclone Gabrielle caused severe damage across the upper North Island.
It comes after the Government declared a national state of emergency on Tuesday for seven days – just the third time in New Zealand’s history this has been declared.
The cyclone has seen over 200,000 people without power, some are without communication, homes have been destroyed and there are massive slips around the North Island.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Tuesday Cyclone Gabrielle is the most significant weather event New Zealand has seen this century.
“The severity and the damage that we are seeing has not been experienced in a generation,” Hipkins said.
Luxon told AM on Wednesday there will need to be a big assessment economically of the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle and the cost of it.
“There’s no doubt about it we need to invest now very strongly in climate adaptation and infrastructure,” he told AM co-host Ryan Bridge.
“We can’t go rebuilding roads that keep getting wiped out and then get wiped out at the next event.”
Luxon said the massive recovery effort is going to require bipartisan support over the coming decades.
“It’s going to be a multi-decade effort starting from tomorrow of recovery and making sure that infrastructure is resilient,” he said.
“It’s going to require bipartisan support because Government is going to come and go over those decades and it’s a very complex issue.
“Who pays for a lot of the investment we’re going to need around insurance companies, ratepayers, taxpayers and central Government.”
Parliament has been suspended for a week in light of Cyclone Gabrielle and Luxon said he agrees with the decision.
“It’s entirely appropriate that Parliament is suspended for this week. What you really want is the ministers of the Government actually having an all of Government response to this crisis and frankly need to be very focussed on that over the coming days,” he said.
“What’s much more important is that MPs are back in their local electorates supporting their constituents. That’s much more important to me and that’s why we think it’s entirely appropriate.”
Luxon said he hasn’t been told if the national state of emergency will go longer than seven days but believes the focus should be on making sure Kiwis feel supported.
“It’s really about New Zealand at this point in time. When you think about the huge amount of suffering that you’re seeing with Kiwis that have been displaced from their homes, you think about all those communities that have been cut off,” he told AM.
“We’ve seen some incredibly heroic efforts from first responders. I was in the bunker in Wellington yesterday and there are 200 people that are working day and night to coordinate with local civil defence. So really it’s all about the New Zealand people and making sure they’re supported at this time.”
Watch the full interview with Christopher Luxon above.