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NZ quake MP sorry for attack on victims

NZ quake MP sorry for attack on victims

Wed September 12, 2012 5:16pm

NEW Zealand's Earthquake Recovery Minister has apologised for saying he is ''sick and tired'' of complaints from Christchurch home owners who are waiting for their damaged homes to be repaired.

Gerry Brownlee was reacting to a Facebook campaign criticising the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the Earthquake Commission and the city council.

''I'm sick and tired of these people carping and moaning,'' he told Christchurch newspaper The Press.

Mr Brownlee described the campaign as ''self-selecting'' and said the only people who had responded to it were those who had time to ''buggerise around on Facebook all day''.

The Labour Party, and some of the frustrated residents, demanded an apology and today they got one.

''Gerry Brownlee says he's sorry he offended frustrated residents in damaged Christchurch homes with his comments reported in The Press,'' a statement issued by his office said.

It went on to quote Mr Brownlee: ''I empathise and sympathise with those people, but I'm also extremely angry at the way some people are characterising the government as not caring or doing nothing,'' he said.

''Hundreds of people in insurance companies, the Earthquake Commission, engineering firms and building firms are doing all they can to provide certainty.''

Before he issued his apology, Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel described his comments as ''an astonishing attack'' which showed Mr Brownlee had lost touch with the people most affected.

''It shows he doesn't understand the massive impact that the uncertainty is causing,'' she said.

''Gerry Brownlee is losing sight of the people. He is way out of line and needs to say sorry.''

A spokesman for Mr Brownlee initially said the minister stood by his remarks.

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