Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

Barry Soper: Surrounded by cordons in Wellington

You could be forgiven for thinking that bits of Wellington's buildings are falling off all over the place.

Cordons in the CBD seem to have been springing up everywhere and an increasing number of civil servants are being sent home.

About 500 Statistics New Zealand staff have had the week off after their relatively new building collapsed in one corner on the first floor, which means we'll all be kept in the dark for a while.

And just up the road from the Beehive in Molesworth St a high-rise is being what they call "deconstructed", which is a euphemism for being bowled over, after the main support beam snapped like a bone we're told.

Even Treasury has been out of their building, which is even closer to the Beehive, for most of the week.

Their political boss Bill English was asked how that affected business and he said he hadn't noticed - hardly a ringing endorsement of those who give him the numbers to crunch.

And he'll have to do that in the coming months as the cost of the latest quake builds up.

The tax-cut carrot his boss John Key had been holding out for next year, because of their much crowed-about surplus this year, is now looking about as elusive as Winston Peters the day after an election.

Even the spies have been out in the cold this week after files went flying every which way, which will come as a relief to goodness only knows who.

There have been more Ministerial briefings around Parliament this week than beers poured in Bellamy's on a Friday night.

If you were feeling a little smug that your low-lying, earthquake-prone brick building had escaped the wrath of the tectonic plate on Monday morning then our civil engineer Buildings Minister Nick Smith would have shattered your illusion.

Don't be complacent, was his message, the nature of the latest beast mainly attacked floors between five and 10.

And if you compare this quake to Christchurch's devastating one, this one was over in 90 seconds, compared to the deadly Garden City disaster, which took just 12 seconds.

With the chances of another big one hitting within the next few months, it's clearly time to pitch the tent and evacuate the buildings.

And if you're sitting where I am, you can't help feeling that the only building that hasn't been evacuated in this area is the yellow-stickered, earthquake-prone Beehive annex, which just happens to house the Parliamentary Press Gallery - perhaps they're trying to send us a message!

- NZ Herald

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