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Brownlee, you’re doing a heck of a job

Written By: - Date published: 9:03 am, April 8th, 2011 - 55 comments
Categories: disaster, housing, International, national - Tags: ,

Christchurch. Quake + 45 days and counting: Homeless may have access to campervans “within a week”, with costs starting at $190 per week. Temporary houses are planned, with a decision on who gets the contract to build them expected “within a week”.

Japan. Quake + 28 days: Homeless had access to special heavy duty ShelterBox tents within two weeks of the quake. Construction of temporary houses was underway within two weeks and is proceeding with remarkable speed. The first families should move in to completed units this weekend. It is expected that these homes will be rent free for two years.

Doesn’t it make you proud to live in National’s New Zealand? Brownlee, you’re doing a heck of a job.

55 comments on “Brownlee, you’re doing a heck of a job”

  1. higherstandard 1

    So many pies, so little time….nom nom nom

    • Sookie 1.1

      LOL :) Monty, the last thing Christchurch needs is so-called leadership by a bunch of possibly corrupt, tunnel visioned, ‘laizzez faire economics rulezzz!’ twats like the Nacts. The invisible hand is not going to achieve anything except a bunch of drafty campervans and some cheap, nasty tilt-slab big box retail parks. In a disaster you need 100% intervention and ownership of the problem. The Japanese get it, and they can hardly be called socialist. Run along now, troll boy.

  2. Monty 2

    they are still clearing rubble – there is a massive building in Chch which needs to come down.  Tell us socialists what labour would have managed to have done differently by Now ?  Easy to sit on the opposition and bleat like the whinging socialists you all are looking for any angle to criticise the Goverment. 

    You make me sick.  No wonder the country has had enough of your lot and quite rightly you are sideined as irrelevant, if that is about as constructive as you can be.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      If Labour were in government, do you think that National opposition would be somehow doing something that the current Labour opposition isn’t?
       
      Cuts both ways, you know.

      • PeteG 2.1.1

        a) It’s impossible to know what National would be doing if Labour were lumbered with problems on this scale
        b) It doesn’t make it good approach or a sensible approach.
         
        It may make some people feel grumpy or grumpier – what else will it achieve?

    • Um care to address the post? If you have not caught up with the latest news Japan had an even bigger earthquake but are dealing quickly and efficiently with the aftermath.

      • Bright Red 2.2.1

        micky. Monty clearly believes that all of Christchurch is covered in rubble and that is the only reason why there aren’t temporary buildings up. There isn’t, for instance, a massive bloody park in the middle of the city that recently held 30,000 and is clear of debris.
        Japan on the other hand does not have any rubble. We’ve all seen images of where those coastal towns stood and thought ‘wow, how neat and tidy’

    • Armchair Critic 2.3

      With you all the way Monty.  Bet the Japanese government hasn’t organised a visit by a British royal, had a benefit concert or played a game of cricket yet.
      /sarcasm

    • ianmac 2.4

      Monty. Do you know how many thousands of families were living in the CBD? Clearly the rubble will have to be shifted from the CBD before thinking can start about housing those families who live there, and before consideration for those few who live in the Eastern suburbs.
      Of course socialists are silly to think priority should be given from the 23 February to arranging housing.

    • The Voice of Reason 2.5

      I think you’d find socialists would put people first, not business. There would also be a significant move toward housing the homeless rather than looking for photo ops. Socialists would also look to put the unemployed into work, buiding and rebuilding, just as we did in the thirties. Socialists wouldn’t look at this disaster as an opportunity to make our rich mates richer and the poor poorer, but as a problem to be solved in a way that benefits the majority. Socialists wouldn’t call for austerity on one hand while throwing millions of taxpayer dollars at failed businesses.

      Don’t worry about feeling sick, monty. The men in white coats will be at your door any minute.

    • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 2.6

      “they are still clearing rubble”

      And that’s not true in Japan?

    • r0b 2.7

      Feeling better now Monty? That’s all right son, let it all out, let it all out. Remember to breathe…

    • felix 2.8

      Fortunately Japan had a tsunami to help wash away all the rubble, right Monty?

    • vto 2.9

      Silly Monty. You been nailed.

      rubble indeed….

    • prism 2.10

      Monty you don’t make me sick.  You’re my favourite biscuit, chocolate covered.  Mmmm.   You are the tops in my list of momentary pleasures.   Don’t try to step into serious cuisine where you are out of your depth.

    • BLiP 2.11

      Still clearing rubble? Don’t you mean dumping convoy-long truck loads of asbestos into the harbour late at night?

    • Galeandra 2.12

      Well well,  Monty….when you’ve finished barfing, maybe you could tell us the answer:what’s the ersatz King of Canta gonna DO beside appear on TeeVee??

      Toilets, he should be good at toilets.

      • lprent 2.12.1

        Don’t be silly. You have to bend over to clean toilets. I rediscovered this again when recovering from sore ribs (and other sundry medical issues) last month.

        Gerry bending over to work on a toilet (or for that matter working at all) seems quite farfetched and unlikely.

    • Billy Fish 2.13

      “You make me sick”

      Monty – you often use terms such as this – please let us know you are seeking adequate health care for your condition. I do hope you recover.

      Oh and baaaaaaa

    • DJ 2.14

      Guess what, they’re still clearing rubble in Japan too. If Brownlee’s not up for the job they should of said so.

      Anyway you’ve always made me sick Monty. You always spit up vile.

  3. vto 3

    Yes the two different approaches and outcomes to date certainly show something..

    I imagine however it has more to do with us and our culture versus the Japanese and theirs. If another bunch of fools were in control of the NZ govt the outcome would be much the same I would surmise. The NZ way is competent but a little slower and this and that and etc etc. The Japanese have shown many times that they have an efficiency that is difficult to match. It’s in their genes.

    Extend it further a little – Haitians at one end, Japanese at the other, NZ close to the top but not atthe top.

    But all of that doesn’t mean that Brownlee couldn’t up his game and try to do it as eficiently and competently as the Japanese. He could have simply got the temporary building underway straight away. The need for a tender process is highly questionable. In fact imo it was unnecessary. Get them building straight away and simply agree to pay market rates. There would no ability for trades to charge like wounded bulls. Quantity survey would quash any such in a flash. The design and locations and contractors could be dealt with as a ‘moving feast’ (i.e. the later builds would iron out any problems the early builds).

    Brownlee could have done it another way. Blimmin’ useless..

    • r0b 3.1

      “New Zealand under National.  More competent than Haiti.”  Mmmmm.  Catchy.

      • ChrisH 3.1.1

        Counterfactual: What would be happening right now if we still had the Ministry of Works?

        • r0b 3.1.1.1

          I’d like to think that our quake homeless would be moving in to the first completed units, just like those in Japan…

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1

            And someone would be properly organising the rebuilding of the homes.

        • Armchair Critic 3.1.1.2

          At a more fundamental level, ChrisH, I reckon the failure here is a failure to plan fully, which has resulted in a failure to act.
          Speculating:
          It seems pretty clear that the probability that a major centre in NZ (lets say 50,000+) will be seriously damaged by a major disaster (flood, earthquake, volcano, tsunami, whatever) in the next 100 years is pretty close to 100%.  We then have choices about how we respond, as a nation.  We could leave it to the invisible hand of the market, or we could do more (compared to what we have done to date) to prepare.  I have no faith in the aforementioned invisible hand (I suspect its invisibility is closely related to its lack of substance), which leaves the option of preparing better.  A Ministry of Works, with the role including immediately mobilising to aid disaster recovery, would be a significant part of better preparation.  It should have the technical skills to know what was needed and how to get these necessities in a “one stop shop”.
          I think the reason we have not prepared properly is funding.  Politicians have tended to be reluctant to fund for what they see as a hypothetical situation that will probably happen after they retire.

  4. zug zug 4

    Monty had to get his coat

    • adriank 4.1

      He’s just like Oskar Schindler: they both made shells for the Nazi’s but Monty’s actually worked, dammit!

  5. randal 5

    lets face it. the tories are cheapskates and their number one priority is lining up their mates to give them the best deals on rack renting the dispossesed.

  6. The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 6

    Hmm, let’s assume for a second that there’s some kind of fundamental cultural difference between New Zealand and Japan which causes very different responses to natural disasters – not that I believe that for a second, but let’s just go with the theory for a sec.

    A more direct comparison would be across the Tasman, where the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi in Dec 2010/Jan 2011 caused similar destruction across a much wider area. How have the culturally-similar Australians managed the recovery?

    For a start, we have some facts and figure available. The Queensland Recovery Agency has published the first of its regular monthly reports, which demonstrate tangible progress in key areas such as transport, economic impacts and rebuilding.

    Let’s take a closer look at that rebuilding report (PDF):

    “Power was lost in approximately 478,000 homes and businesses. By early March 2011 approximately 99% of affected homes and businesses had power restored.”

    So the scale of the problem in Queensland is around three times larger than Christchurch and spread across a much bigger geographic area. But despite the scale and extent, 99% are back on the grid.

    “As at 24 February 2011, insurance claims paid were estimated at $310 million. The Insurance Council of Australia estimates additional claims of $2,460 million to be paid.”

    Based on the numbers, about 15% of claimants already have money in their bank accounts from the insurance companies.

    Delving into some of the other reports, we discover that the Australians have paid out more than $725 million in recovery payments (enough to buy a whole fleet of inflatable wakas) and all but two schools have been repaired and re-opened:

    “As a result of the natural disasters, 377 schools across the state were affected. As at 3 March 2011 only 2 schools (Milperra and Rocklea) continued to operate from alternative locations. These schools are due to reopen from term 3 in July.”

    On the business front, support is continuing for small businesses affected by the floods and Cyclone Yasi:

    “The impact of the weather events on small businesses has been significant. As at 3 March 2011, 2,151 grants had been paid totalling $10,771,000.”

    And as the graphs demonstrate (PDF), the level of support for these small businesses has been increasing, not decreasing, as time has gone on.

    In short, it’s hard not to be impressed by the scale and extent of the recovery effort in Queensland. 

    And nowhere in the reports could I find reference to people being charged $190/week by their own government for a campervan, business support being scaled back within 6 weeks of the disaster, or retailers having to wait until October for temporary premises.

    Faced with the biggest civil disaster in NZ since WWII, it’s instead easy to be impressed by Brownlee’s display of ineptitude. He has demonstrated the kind of weapons-grade incompetence that should be banned by UN treaty, and I think the complete lack of momentum in the recovery needs to be laid squarely at his feet. But then, what else did we expect from a third-rate woodworking teacher?

    • Kenny 6.1

      And no doubt thousands of capable Kiwi’s helping out.

    • Red Rosa 6.2

      This is a great comment, TEISG. It should be front page news in the ChCh Press. 

      Time is passing, and Brownlee. Parker and Key do not seem to have any real grip on the situation. The city is still an appalling mess after 6 weeks. 

      When the ChCh winter really sets in, as it usually does in May, then getting to a Portaloo half way down the street in the dark and rain will be the sad lot of many in the eastern suburbs.

      This by itself will sum up the ineptitude of  those at the top.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      This difference between what happened here, in Oz and Japan in regards to disaster response highlights something intangible that we have lost over the last 30 years of neo-liberalism. That something is actually quite important and it is the status of a developed nation because that is what we no longer are. A developed nation would have the plans, processes and, yes, government departments for handling such disasters which would have been built up over time and we threw the whole lot out to save money and now that we need them we’re left scratching our heads wondering what to do.
      Why did we let the governments from the 1980s on debilitate our society?

    • This is a great comment – thanks, it has put it into perspective for me. brownlee’s ineptitude is a burden to the recovery – he is drag. There are some good on the ground initiatives like this one - I’d like these initiatives to get more airtime to show what is happening to support people and I agree your comment above deserves wider reading too. ‘The emperor has no clothes’ should be shouted from the rooftops no matter how disturbing that image may be.

    • Galeandra 6.5

      Well done TEISG, the discussion is suddenly a hell of  a lot more serious than something simply partisan political. I look forward to a long line of apologists for this government stepping forward to take credit or offer explanations about the fizzer of a reconstruction effort so far. Look at the EQC saga on TV 3 over the last week as a further example. Are all the Ministers missing-in-action?

  7. Kerry 7

    I’ve heard his appetite for mellowpuffs is second to none

  8. PeteG 8

    It was inevitable there would be mistakes, inefficiencies, frustrations and delays. EQC, Civil Defence, the Government and the Opposition could presume and prepare and plan and practice to an extent, but what has happened was largely unpredicatable. It’s easy to predict in general terms that some disasater could strike somewhere, somtime, to some extent, but there were far more unknowns than knowns.
     
    This is an enormous unprecedented urgent task. A heck-of-a big ask. They can’t and won’t get it all right – I’m sure almost everyone involved is doing as much as they can to the best of their ability. Address the problems, but not obsess over them. And try to do as much as possible to help, more so than sideline bitching.

    • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 8.1

      Sorry Pete, but that’s just nonsense.

      Since when is an earthquake in the Shaky Isles “largely unpredictable”? Irrespective of where the completely inevitable earthquake occurred, there would still be the need for portaloos and chemical toilets and tents and campervans and water filters and all the rest of the items that would normally fall under the heading of “contingency planning”.

      But as DTB points out up-thread, they weren’t there because of that desire to save a few bucks over the last couple of decades by winding down the public sector and selling the silverware. There was no supply of emergency items as under the dipstick neoliberal cost/benefit assessment it was too expensive to have all that “unused capital” just lying around, waiting for the earthquake we all knew was going to happen one day.

      And when you’re intent on cutting the back-office of government and bleating on about “efficiency” at the cost of resilience, the net result is people shitting in their gardens whilst waiting weeks for chemical toilets from China.

      Just like in the Third World.

      • PeteG 8.1.1

        How may portaloos and public servants should now be on standby for Wellington? Hastings? Auckland in case of volcano? Half the North Island becasue of volvano or earthquake? All of ther South Island because of earthquake?
         
        I guess if the Railways was still used as an employment mop then they could have been transferrd to actual work. And the MOW shovel sucklers would be already equipped, they’d only have to learn how to use them.
         
        No one can plan for all contingincies. Just ask the Japanese.

        • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 8.1.1.1

          There you go with that out-of-date neoliberal thinking … that there’s absolutely no value in any kind of contingency planning, that resourcing should be cut to the bone irrespective of the longer-term consequences, and that public servants are automatically worse at their jobs than the private sector.

          Reality doesn’t follow the neoliberal playbook, of course. Which is why both Australia and Japan are doing far better at recovering from much larger-scale disasters than the useless idiots in the Beehive.

          No-one plans for all contingencies. It’s just a pity that your lot don’t seem to plan for any of them – and lack the management skills to tidy up the mess afterwards.

          • PeteG 8.1.1.1.1

            You’re making things up, I said nothing like what you claim. And I don’t have a my lot.
             
            If there was no planning for contingencies does that mean all of Labour’s contingency plans were thrown out? Where did all their stand-by portaloos go? Or were their contingencies non-existent too?
             
            Civil defence do actually plan and prepare and practice, they’ve done that for yonks. Maybe they need more resources. The key thing is to learn from this experience.

            • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Labour fell prey to exactly the same neoliberal nonsense as National – although they caught the disease in a less severe fashion, so they wouldn’t be cutting off aid to small business and charging for campervans in the same cynical and short-sighted way as the Nacts.

              But here’s the thing – I’d far rather have Helen Clark and Michael Cullen in charge right now than John Key and Bill English and Gerry Brownlee. When it comes to crisis, you want people with the focus and the energy and the intellectual horsepower to actually do the damn job.

              It’s not the fact that Key and co are lazy and venal that gets me – it’s the fact that they’re a bit thick.

              • PeteG

                The last election and the ensuing polls suggest quite a few people think differently. Not everyone can be right.

                • rosy

                  I don’t think the polls suggest that at all. If you’re going to speculate about a poll result you could just as easily say voters are uncomfortable with intelligent people in government. They’d prefer to have Joe/Jane Average – people a bit more like the rest of us

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.2

          You don’t plan for all contingencies you moron, you plan a process that can be implemented in any emergency. It won’t be perfect but it’ll be a hell of a lot better than doing no planning and praying that nothing bad happens which seems to be your, and the delusional NACT, response.

        • Mac1 8.1.1.3

          Ah, PeteG, your regurgitation of sorry and old characterisations e.g. ‘shovel sucklers’ reminds me of a story told in Parliament by Richard Prebble, when he was Minister of Railways.

          I last told this story to a neighbour who pointed out the ‘fact’ to him that railway workers were so venal that they worked on Sundays just to get the double overtime. I pointed out another possible scenario- that just possibly they were working on Sunday on the railway line because there was less traffic on a Sunday to be inconvenienced. Six months later, he came out with the same story as he had before……. some never learn (assuming of course that my story was better than his.)  :-)

          Prebble’s story goes. As Minister he was written to by a railways commuter who irately pointed out that every time he travelled on the train into Wellington he saw groups of men idly standing by the track, suckling their shovels as PeteG would put it. Prebble pointed out to the commuter that it was not Railways policy to have workers engaged on working on a line at the exact same time as when a train was passing over it!

          BTW, PeteG, ever put in a day’s work with a shovel?

          • PeteG 8.1.1.3.1

            BTW, PeteG, ever put in a day’s work with a shovel?

            Yes, plenty. I grew up in the country and have done quite a bit if manual labour since a young age. I still live semi in the country, I did half a day with a shovel last weekend.
             
            The MOW sunshine gang were often referred to as shovel sucklers, by rural people who knew how to work hard.

            • Mac1 8.1.1.3.1.1

              And you never stopped for a breather? You just shovelled for two hours, took your ten minutes smoko, and then shovelled solidly for another two hours, took your lunch break and then shovelled solidly for another two hours, took a ten minute break, and then finished work with another good two hours on the shovel?

              You never leant on a shovel while another worker did another job on the spot where you were working?

              You never had to wait for another load of material to shovel, or another truck to come by to fill or for the boss to come by to detail another job?

              Rural people worked for themselves, and made these decisions. When they rested from the shovel to roll a smoke or take a breather, then they were ‘thinking about the next part of the job.” When they put the shovel down to take a breather, they were going “to get a piece of equipment” or “to make an important phone call” or “to do another job that needed doing.”  I know. I’ve been a farm worker, and I’ve emptied coal wagons and I’ve thrown coal with a shovel ten feet up into the hopper of a coal-fired furnace. Funnily, the blokes on the shovel knew how hard they worked.

    • Armchair Critic 8.2

      but what has happened was largely unpredicatable
      What do you reckon the chances are that some kind of disaster will ruin a significant population centre in NZ in the next hundred or so years?  Almost 100%?
      Sure, we can’t plan for where or when, but it’s almost certain to happen somewhere in NZ at some stage.  And we can improving our preparation on the likelihood something will happen.

  9. deservingpoor 9

    The difference between Japan and New Zealand is that in Japan when a disaster occurs, affecting thousands of people, they get on with fixing it. In New Zealand we sit around arguing about how much it will cost. The mere suggestion of charging rent to people made homeless and jobless by a major earthquake should spark a public outcry but not in New Zealand. Here it is regarded as perfectly normal.
    Apparently any kind of co-ordinated response to help our fellow human beings because its the right thing to do, is just socialism.

  10. Treetop 10

    First NZ Rail replaced the TranzCoastal rail service (Picton – Christchurch) with buses and now the tourists cannot even use the replacement bus service as that too has been canned.  NZ Rail cannot even manage a replacement bus service for tourists, disgusting management.

    Maybe the rail carriges can house a few people until the service resumes for the RWC.

  11. Hello from the UK. Here’s an interesting observation from the other side of the world: Immediately after the quake everyone seemed to pull together. The amazing community spirit was commented upon by the news media. Later the politicians get involved now you all seem to be bickering amongst yourselves. Coincidence?

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