Mrs Grumble was somewhat jolted by a headline at Stuff this morning.
Why is Alf still waiting?
She supposed the parliamentary hacks at Stuff – at long last – had been musing on the PM’s failure to make much better use of the member for Eketahuna North’s vast energy and administrative and political prowess.
No doubt they were wondering why Alf was still sitting on the back benches where those talents were being wasted and the nation – surely – was suffering as a consequence.
But Mrs Grumble soon found she should not read too much into a headline.
The Alf in question is 92-year-old Alf Johnson, and his problem is not the sinking of his political ambitions but that his house is still slanting.
Two and a half months after The Press spoke to Johnson, he is still in his sloping St Martins home.
He is one of more than 4000 vulnerable claimants still awaiting action on their damaged homes, with the Earthquake Commission (EQC) or private insurers.
It seems The Press highlighted his plight in March.
State Insurance representatives visited him immediately after and he said he had been happy the insurers had “finally had a wake-up call”.
But his happiness didn’t last.
April 30 was the date set for him to move out and for the demolition to begin. Once again, the big move never happened.
“I’m getting a bit browned off, because they’re so long-winded about it,” Johnson said.
Alf (the one who serves the good people of Eketahuna North) does not know who most deserves a kick up the bum.
A State spokeswoman said Johnson’s plans are with the council awaiting building consent. But it seems Alf (the 92-year-old one) had been instructed to pack and be ready to vacate his home in December last year.
Christmas came and went and Johnson remained.
The insurance company and Labour’s earthquake recovery spokeswoman, Ruth Dyson, are reported to have “chased” Johnson’s claim with the council on May 6, and again on May 21.
However, a council spokeswoman said they had sent a request for more information to the owner’s agent on May 16, and could not proceed with granting a consent until this was received.
Correspondence was not received until Thursday after following up inquiries from The Press, she said.
There’s lots more in the Press story today along with statistics showing how much has been done and how much remains to be done in the Christchurch rebuild.
None of that helps the 92-year-old Alf.
But Alf from Eketahuna North will have a word with Gerry Brownlee – our Canterbury Earthquake Recovery – to see if he can ginger things up a bit.
He will take the opportunity to remind the Minister that he is only too willing to take over the portfolio if Gerry is not up to it.