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The Standard

The circling vultures

Written By: - Date published: 10:59 am, February 11th, 2012 - 105 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, local government, privatisation - Tags: , , ,

People are waking up to National’s plan to remove the democratically-elected Christchurch City Council and replace it with its own hand-picked commissioners, who will then give a green light to Brownlee’s developer mates and the sale of council assets. You can already see the vultures circling – waiting for the chance to seize more public wealth for themselves.

Fran O’Sullivan, who seems to have made it her personal goal this year to promote the sale of everything New Zealand owns into foreign or private control, doesn’t mention sale of the council’s assets directly, but it’s there in code:

“it must surely be fast approaching the point where Parker either immerses himself full-time in leading his city through a very difficult period when tough fiscal choices must be made, or makes way for a new hard-nosed leader who can unite the divided council behind a common goal…

…Tough choices do have to be made.

The Government is stumping up an enormous amount of cash for the Canterbury rebuild. But the Earthquake Commission’s funds are exhausted. The kitty is bare and must be replenished. ..

…There is a desperate need to ensure businesses stay involved in Christchurch. Fancy urban plans are one thing – but sheer economics demand that Christchurch gets on with it soon.”

No-one’s denying that Parker’s a vainglorious fuckwit. He opportunistically used the first earthquakes to get re-elected and has shown himself to be useless at actually running a city – which is why the people of Christchurch were about to vote him out after one term before the media beatified him.

But that doesn’t mean that the entire council needs to be sacked. And it certainly doesn’t justify O’Sullivan’s “tough choices” to “replenish the kitty”  and “ensure businesses stay involved in Christchurch” – ie asset sales and giving carte blanche to developers (without a hint of irony, O’Sullivan later writes how letting developers ignore the rules in the 80s lead to the CTV Building collapse).

Christchurch will need the strategic control and the dividend stream that its council-owned assets give it even more in the coming years. The last thing it needs is a one-off sugar rush of sale revenue and, then, to be bound by demands of a few large private investors that have no interest in Christchurch other than as a source of  profits, while trying to build a city that will function for the whole community.

And the last thing this country needs is another of our CBDs turned into a developers’ disaster of cheaply-constructed buildings, poorly laid out and ugly. We have the opportunity to get Christchurch right and future-proofed. Get on with it, by all means, but don’t sacrifice quality in haste.

O’Sullivan isn’t the only neoliberal vulture circling, waiting for the chance to rip public wealth out of a wounded city and keep it for private gain. Stuff reports (in a tone that assumes asset sales are a foregone conclusion) that various large investment firms are lining up to get their mitts on the wealth built with ratepayer dollars. And why wouldn’t they? Those assets return $100m of profit a year, similar in scale to the slices of some of the SOEs the government is privatising.

Make no mistake, the crisis that National is generating around Auckland council, ably assisted by various shills, is about creating the opportunity to sell the Christchurch people’s assets and ensure the rebuild is focused on developers’ interests. The democratically-elected council is a road-block to that, and that’s why National will get rid of it, unless we fight them.

Incidentally, Christchurch was the only area of New Zealand where the number of National Party votes increased last election (despite a massive drop in turn-out there). That may be a testimony to Labour’s local MPs avoiding politicising the handling of the quakes, while no such quarter was given by National. Those extra few thousand votes in Christchurch are, ironically, all that gives National a majority for asset sales in the House. Don’t expect the people of Christchurch to be so generous in 2014 if National dismantles their local democracy and sells their common wealth.

105 comments on “The circling vultures”

  1. vto 1

    If Christchurch City Council needs $1,000 million…

    and it has assets which generate every year $100 million…

    then that is only ten years ….

    What the fuck is the problem? Dumb pricks.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      And it’d probably take more than ten years to actually spend the money anyway. Rebuilding Christchurch is going to take a long time no matter what anybody does. You don’t just rebuild a city in a day.

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      They need $1,000m on top of the existing money that they have. That $100m annual income is already accounted for.

      • vto 1.2.1

        Yes I appreciate that. But as Draco says, the costs will be spread over a considerable time period.

        Perhaps I am being cynical and perhaps the National government act entirely above board and with no hidden agendas like they did with Ecan and their dairy farmers, but why is it that, out of $20 billion-odd that is supposedly needed to rebuild, we get just about all the way there but not quite. In fact, it seems that the amount we are short is pretty much the exact amount that the Christchurch citizens’ assets are worth….

        I don’t trust this National government and I don’t believe they act above board. So I view this with nothing but full and complete cynicism.

  2. Adders 2

    Gordon Campbell gets stuck in on this subject too:

    http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2012/02/10/gordon-campbell-on-banks-and-brownlees-christchurch-sellof/

    comparing the disparity between bank profits, drawn from the community and disappearing overseas, and the rebuild cost, amongst other things.

    The photo of Brownlee is worth a look by itself.

    • Interesting article, Adders. I note Brownlee saying,

      “Let me tell you, when the Government is spending $5.5b anywhere, we expect the recipients of that to have some plan for how they will participate in what will be a very, very expensive recovery. And that plan has to be a lot better than ‘we’re just going to put up the rates and we’re going to borrow a lot more money’.”

      Which is precisely what the National governmentr did; raise gst; raise ACC premiums; raise EQC levies; and borrowed $380 million a week until we were (last reported) $18 billion in debt.

      http://www.3news.co.nz/Government-accounts-show-184-billion-deficit/tabid/419/articleID/229052/Default.aspx

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10724665

      So it’s ok for Central government to raise taxes/charges/levies and borrow like crazy – but not Christchurch!?

      Ok, got it.

      • aerobubble 2.1.1

        Won’t CHCh get a windfall from construction? Hotels full, rentals full, people with jobs building the new CBD, etc, etc. ChCh projections surely are great considering all the insurance money. ChCh is set to for growth and growth means profits, and profits means investors rubbing their hands, and control of ChCh council necessarily means gifting contracts to the boom time.

        • vto 2.1.1.1

          bubble, the net end position is still negative.

          Kobe in Japan 16 years after their earthquake still has a GDP lower than it was previously.

          The sugar rush from reconstruction is just that – a sugar rush from the knock-out drugs while the patient lies comatose with all bones broken.

          • aerobubble 2.1.1.1.1

            Yes, but control of council means meal tickets for those with the connections surely.
            ChCh also is no Kobe, its ‘niche’ is not fickle manufacturing, its a regional south island agra hub and the farmers and tourists are not likely to leave.

            Overall, Earth population will continue to rise, so will ChCh population, so growth is pretty much assured, unlike Japan with its extreme aging problem. NZ depopulation is temporary due to poor governance from National avoiding the hard questions about the economy and producing more leaky home legislation in every industry and public service.

            Didn’t National declare better building technology meant it was okay to remove standards on house building and so create the leaky home problem. Isn’t the googification of all government services just another nice wishful decision whose ramifications are being ignored. What was the CCTV building but a break down in the code, the building of the code, and the consenting of the final build, all wrapped up in a PR we’re brilliant in ChCh, the council does not make mistakes. What is the Peak River Mine but the same PR safety par excellence PR gloss. What is the Clean Green image blitz. But NZ lying to itself with wiseful estimations because its cheaper in the short term.

            Of course the Council needs to be taken over so big money can by big PR to cover up the mess from under paid, over stretched second rate experts, of and cornering the profits for the few who got on the gravy train first. The NZ economy is one big rort for the few.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    The council and Parker would have been sacked by now if they could find someone to run the show.

  4. vto 4

    Also, $1billion is only two-thirds of the $1.5billion paid out to the fools who put their money in South Canterbury Finance.

    This brainless idea of Brownlee’s is like selling the house to repair the car…. would Brownlee do that?

    There is no problem with paying for the repairs.

    The only problem is the deceitful desire of this National-Act-United Fuckers-Maori government. Just like the lie that was Creech’s report re Environment Canterbury. These people simply cannot be trusted.

    • Bored 4.1

      SFC fully illustrated the contempt with which the current NZ government treated the common garden tax payer (through the gaurantee scheme that encouraged more private investment at a higher rate with no fear of failure). The beneficiaries might just possibly be those with lots of money….sounds to me dreadfully like supporters and funders of the National Party could be in the frame? Might just be, who knows?

  5. ianmac 5

    Is it possible that Parker has a deal going with Government to collapse the CCC so that Commissioners can be appointed? Reluctantly of course! Previous experience was Parker’s involvement with ECan. (And later a safe seat as MP?)

    • Nick K 5.1

      Is it possible?

      That would mean Parker is acting in breach of the Local Government Act, and his oath he swears by once elected. In fact, I suspect it would be bloody treasonous for an elected Mayor to act like that, especially in a city that has been shattered by earthquakes.

      So no, I think that’s completely nuts and not at all likely nor possible.

      • felix 5.1.1

        You find it inconceivable that Parker could be a scumbag?

        Interesting.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2

        People have been treasonous (useless information of the day: that’s the original meaning of the word warlock) for a long time. Some people, most notably psychopaths, find breaking oaths quiet easy as they never took them seriously in the first place. As I’ve pointed out before, successful psychopaths tend to vote right and be the leaders of right-wing business and politics.

        • felix 5.1.2.1

          Never understood the point of oaths. Seems to me they only bind the honourable who by definition don’t need to be bound to an oath in order to behave honourably, while giving scumbags and psychopaths a free spin.

          Oh ok, I just twigged to the point of oaths.

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.2.1.1

            In olden style communities there were severe punishments for lying under oath, formal and informal. Perjury is an example; giving a false statement or statutory declaration another.

            These days with crony cartel capitalism seeping in everywhere people on the whole just let it pass. The institutions and civic leaders who are supposed to oversee due process seem busy with other things.

    • Hami Shearlie 5.2

      Not our Side-Show Bob? Surely someone with such carefully moderated tones would be above that type of behaviour?? Very lizard-like, our Bob, slithering here and slithering there, whichever way the wind blows, Benevolent Bob will be there, doing the carefully rehearsed “Sincerity Show”!

  6. Nick K 6

    “…who will then give a green light to Brownlee’s developer mates and the sale of council assets.”

    Who are these “developer mates”? Name them please.

    • Bored 6.1

      Collective term I suspect, theres a few here in Wellington I could easily name…as for being mates with Brownlee I doubt (who would be)?

      The word Ian might have used is “Carpetbaggers”. The derivation is post US Civil War when rich Northerners who had profited from the war travelled the desolated South fleecing the desparate broken losers. The money was in carpet bags, hence the term.

  7. Nick K 7

    Yes, I agree it seems to be a descriptive – he just made shit up.

  8. eljaydee 8

    I can hear them now. “So as not to unduly delay the reconstruction, regulation must be kept to a minimum so they developers will be able to build substandard housing and business premises and in 20 years time we can have another enquiry into how Christchurch could be rebuilt with leaky homes and office towers that couldn’t survive a flood. (Even I am not so cynical as to suggest they would let the eathquake standards drop… yet.)

  9. tsmithfield 9

    Except the government is expressing an extreme reluctance to appoint commissioners in Christchurch.

    I think you will find it is the Christchurch protesters who are probably more left aligned that are calling for the council to be sacked that would probably be quite happy with commissioners as an interim solution.

    If the government really wanted to replace the council with commissioners, I think they would have already done so, when they had a wave of popular support to deal to the existing council.

    • felix 9.1

      Yes, if the govt did want to dump a(nother) democratically elected body I expect they’d say “Actually we’re gagging for it”.

      Because that’s how politics works eh? You tell everyone exactly what your plans are, especially if they’re unpopular, and you never lie or obfuscate or flip-flop or plot or scheme in any way. No one has alterior motives. Just not the done thing old chap.

      Oh and there’s no “extreme reluctance” expressed in your link. Smith said

      the Government is not giving any consideration at this point

      (emphasis mine)

      That’s clearly not “extreme reluctance” it’s “leaving the door open”.

      In short, just more of your usual bullshit tsmithfield, the same old “you can’t complain about things that haven’t happened yet” to be followed by the same old “there’s no point complaining now that it’s happened”.

    • Zetetic 9.2

      expressing ‘extreme reluctance’ to do something and then doing it because there’s ‘no other option’ is a favourite play for this government.

    • tsmithfield, I understand that you also live in Christchurch (like me)?

      You’ll therefore be aware that the overwhelming call – both at the protest and in the letters to The Press – has been for new elections, not commissioners.

      I suspect that the government is ‘extremely reluctant’ to be seen to be the one pushing for commissioners. I think, strategically, their preference is, first, to pressure the council into doing what the government would like to see happen – sell assets, remove any serious consent process, etc..

      A second, less preferred because politically more risky tactic, is to act like Julius Caesar and thrice refuse the ‘crown’ – then take it with an ‘everyone wants us to’ deception.

      ‘Deception’ because not everyone – certainly not a majority in Christchurch – would want them to, but there will be lot’s of ‘important people’ – including this “largely anonymous group of business leaders” – singing from that hymnbook at a moment’s notice. You may remember that there was a business lobby group set up to do just that last year. 

      The mechanics may well involve appointing commissioners to “work alongside” the councillors; the reality will be that the councillors will be ‘consulted’ and otherwise allowed to choose the colour of CCC letterhead paper, and other significant matters. That would make it look like the council wasn’t being sacked – while, of course, it will have been.

      That’s my guess, anyway. 

  10. tsmithfield 10

    “That’s clearly not “extreme reluctance” it’s “leaving the door open”.”

    Of course its leaving the door open. It is extremely foolish to completely take an option completely off the table.

    However, if the government really did have the sinister objectives attributed to it by various commentators here, then the ideal time to take control would have been when there was popular demand for the existing council to be ousted.

    By appointing the observer they are giving the council an opportunity to become functional again. If the council is perceived as functional then the government would likely no longer have a popular mandate for appointing commissioners, and the opportunity would be lost. So, strategically, I just don’t see that the government has any desire to appoint commissioners, or they would have done so when the opportunity was most favourable for this move.

    My prediction is that unless the council deteriorates further then the government will take no further action. However, since politicians inherently crave positions of power, I predict that they will tow the line to avoid an outcome that strips them of their authority.

    We will see who was right in the fullness of time.

    • felix 10.1

      I’m extremely reluctant to say you’re full of shit. They’ll take down the council when all their ducks are in a row and it won’t matter a fig how the council is performing because that has nothing to do with the reason for taking them down.

    • vto 10.2

      tsmithfield, do you think there may be a possibility that the “observer” at the Christchurch City Council is similar to the “report” by Wyatt Creech on Environment Canterbury??

      Creech and cohorts were simply lying bastards making shit up to suit their agenda and obviously the “report” gave cover to what Nick Smith, John Key and David Carter and their farming mates wanted to with water in Canterbury. If you don’t believe me then read what former judge and current commissioner Skelton has said about it. He says exactly this, although in more diplomatic terms.

      I note Wyatt Creech is now being charged for dishonesty offences regarding finance companies he was associated with. He is not and clearly never has been a man to be trusted. (I also note other National party members and former government ministers no less, Doug Graham, Bill Jeffries and John Luxton are also being charged with dishonesty offences. I mean, how many other organisations have this proportion of members in the dock, outside of criminal gangs? How many tsmithfield?)

      Do you seriously think the exact same game plan is not a possibility with the “observer” having been recently appointed?

  11. vto 11

    Just read Fran’s piece, which is really quite a piece of useless poos. Substanceless poos.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    Strategically, if they were going to do it, the optimal time would have been when there was a demand for change. Shit, there was even councillors themselves requesting that the government appoint commissioners. They would have been “striking while the iron was hot” if they appointed commissioners at that time.

    Anyway, why would they bother appointing commissioners when they have all the power they need already through CERA?

    • felix 12.1

      You presume to know the optimal strategic time for something you admit you don’t understand the strategic reason for doing at all?

      I think that provides a fair estimate of the weight of your opinion.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    There were plenty of articles here such as this decrying the loss of democratic process due to CERA. According to commentators to “the Standard” such as Eddie, CERA seems to assume all power including power over council processes. So, why bother appointing a commissioner. Why not just tell them to fuck off and put the big people in CERA in control?

    • felix 13.1

      That’s an argument you’ll probably have to have with yourself, your hypotheticals are of no particular interest to me.

      And as you’ve said, you don’t know why anyway.

    • Zetetic 13.2

      because CERA doesn’t let the govt do everything (like set rates, for example). It does let the government force the council to sell its assets, but it would be politically harder to do with the council opposing the move, taking things through the courts etc.

  14. johnm 14

    My reaction is our RWNJ Government is using this disaster to do a bit of the “Shock Doctrine” of Disaster Capitalism as clearly explained by Naomi Klein. The well paid Shills know where their bank balances are padded and join in: TINA There is no alternative which is absolute rubbish.

    Our Hawaiin Presi likes the U$$$$$$ way of the richer get richer, the common good to him is communism!(utter U$$$ rubbish propaganda)

    Why The Right Loves A Disaster
    By Naomi Klein – January 27th, 2008

    [deleted]

    To be sure, desperate countries will generally do what it takes to get a bailout. An atmosphere of panic also frees the hands of politicians to quickly push through radical changes that would otherwise be too unpopular, such as privatization of essential services, weakening of worker protections and free-trade deals. In a crisis, debate and democratic process can be handily dismissed as unaffordable luxuries.

    Do the free-market policies packaged as emergency cures actually fix the crises at hand? For the ideologues involved, that has mattered little. What matters is that, as a political tactic, disaster capitalism works. It was the late free-market economist Milton Friedman, writing in the preface to the 1982 reissue of his manifesto, “Capitalism and Freedom,” who articulated the strategy most succinctly. “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”

    [deleted]

    Every crisis is an opportunity; someone will exploit it. The question we face is this: Will the current turmoil become an excuse to transfer yet more public wealth into private hands, to wipe out the last vestiges of the welfare state, all in the name of economic growth? Or will this latest failure of unfettered markets be the catalyst that is needed to revive a spirit of public interest, to get serious about the pressing crises of our time, from gaping inequality to global warming to failing infrastructure?

    The disaster capitalists have held the reins for three decades. The time has come, once again, for disaster populism.

    Refer link: http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2008/01/why-right-loves-disaster

    No we must not sell ChCh’s assets their income will be invaluable for the reconstruction democracy not privatized greed must lead us to a new and attractive Christchurch. Civic Pride from a people’s city not a privatized profit driven alienated concrete jungle. The U$$$$ is full of the latter inhuman concrete city jungles where the person becomes a meaningless ant crawling around, a universe away from the centres of money power.Privatization is antithetical to democracy.

    [lprent: quoted material snipped to a size acceptable to both this sites requirement, and the strictures of copyright. It also makes the point easier to see without the examples. ]

  15. tsmithfield 15

    Anyway, it seems we are going nowhere with this. The lefties here seem to see this as some sort of sinister plot, whereas I see it as left wing paranoia.

    Felix, how about you take me up on a wager:

    Lets give it six months from this date to allow plenty of time for this nefarious plan to be implimented.
    If commissioners are appointed within this time to take over the council, I will confess publicly on this site that I am nothing but a fool, that you are supremely wise, and that I grovel at your feet. However, if no commissioners are appointed over that time, you will state publicly exactly the same to me.

    [lprent: no bets around here please. Big bruvs one was a pain in the arse. ]

    • felix 15.1

      Why not make it by next Tuesday if we’re just making up arbitrary dates? Or by the election? Or by the end of the world in December?

      But sorry no, I don’t take bets from people I don’t trust and you’ve proved yourself a cretin too many times to count.

      • tsmithfield 15.1.1

        “Why not make it by next Tuesday if we’re just making up arbitrary dates? Or by the election? Or by the end of the world in December?”

        Make it a year if you want. Plenty of time for the “token” observer to fail and the government to step in with their commissioners.

        “But sorry no, I don’t take bets from people I don’t trust and you’ve proved yourself a cretin too many times to count.”

        Well, there are plenty of observers to witness the wager and hold both of us to account. And if I’m such a cretin, then it should be a fairly sure thing for you.

        Unless, of course, you don’t really believe what you’re spouting, and you’re really a little bit scared of having to front up and grovel to me.

        Four words for you:

        Booooooork bork bork bork. :smile:

        • burt 15.1.1.1

          He’s a lefty. He’ll quickly repeat any other lefties world view as if it’s his own but will he stand by it when pushed – never !

          They don’t know how to back themselves, that’s why they fill the dole queues and rely on our taxes to supplement their income. No risk – no reward.

          • tsmithfield 15.1.1.1.1

            I know. That’s why I was quite happy to make the challenge. I knew he wouldn’t have the guts to take it up.

            • burt 15.1.1.1.1.1

              The thing is – as an ‘anonymous’ poster there is no shame in admitting you were wrong. Hell if I didn’t sit on your side of this debate I’d happily take you on. Imagine… OMG some blogger called ‘burt’ had to admit he was wrong… oh the shame – how could I leave the house !

              His back down is actually hilarious…

              • tsmithfield

                Yeah I know. I’d be happy to do the wager under my real name. His sudden absence from the conversation speaks volumes. Probably too ashamed to show up now.

                • felix

                  Yes clearly. Are you over yourself yet?

                  Why don’t you have a bet with burt instead? He’s as likely as you to honour it.

                  • tsmithfield

                    Yes Felix.

                    Everyone here knows you declined to take that wager on a matter of principle, and that is nothing whatsoever to do with being shit scared of being proved wrong and having to grovel to someone you consider to be a “cretin” by your own words.

                    • felix

                      Proved wrong about what? You’re trying to get me to bet on something I haven’t even expressed a view on.

                      Here’s what I’ve actually said:

                      1. You were dishonest to say Nick Smith expressed “extreme reluctance” when the piece you linked to said no such thing.

                      2. His phrasing deliberately leaves open the option that the govt will at some point take control of Chch local govt.

                      3. They’ll do this when it suits them not when it suits you.

                      Now fuck off and make a bet with yourself about any hypothetical you like and stop trying to put words in my mouth.

                    • tsmithfield

                      “Here’s what I’ve actually said:

                      1. You were dishonest to say Nick Smith expressed “extreme reluctance” when the piece you linked to said no such thing.”

                      What you said was that if he was “leaving the door open” he couldn’t be expressing extreme reluctance. However, it is quite possible to be extremely reluctant do take a course of action, but still have the course of action on the table.

                      Whether it is extreme reluctance or not is open to interpretation from the context of what he said. For instance, he was open to giving them advice, wanted them to stop poking the borax at each other and had no current plans to appoint a commissioner. It seems clear from this that he had a strong preference for the councillors to sort their own shit out.

                      “2. His phrasing deliberately leaves open the option that the govt will at some point take control of Chch local govt.”

                      Agreed.

                      “3. They’ll do this when it suits them not when it suits you.”

                      Rubbish. Nick Smith said the council had weeks not months to sort their shit out. So, the time frame I gave of a year was actually being very generous to you.

                      You need to increase your spatial awareness of what is being said in the media.

                    • felix

                      “What you said was that if he was “leaving the door open” he couldn’t be expressing extreme reluctance.”

                      Err no I didn’t, that’s a lie. I said he left the door open and he didn’t express “extreme reluctance”. See why I don’t trust you?

                      “Whether it is extreme reluctance or not is open to interpretation from the context of what he said.”

                      Oh goodness, you finally got there. It’s your phrase, you made it up and inserted it into the discussion in a way that implied that it was obvious and not really debatable, and it’s a hell of a lot stronger than anything anyone said in the link you provided.

                      “Rubbish. Nick Smith said the council had weeks not months to sort their shit out.”

                      Sorry tsmithfield, I thought I was responding to the link you actually posted, not everything else you might or might not have read lately. See why I don’t trust you yet?

                      “So, the time frame I gave of a year was actually being very generous to you.”

                      Exactly, it’s your time frame related to your argument and nothing to do with anything I’ve said. Which is precisely why I’m extremely reluctant to bet with people like you.

                    • tsmithfield

                      “Err no I didn’t, that’s a lie. I said he left the door open and he didn’t express “extreme reluctance”. See why I don’t trust you?”

                      Don’t try and weasel out of what you said and have the gall to call me a liar in the process. Here is what you said exactly:

                      “That’s clearly not “extreme reluctance” it’s “leaving the door open”.”

                      You framed the concepts as mutually exclusive, not co-existing.

                      “It’s your phrase, you made it up and inserted it into the discussion in a way that implied that it was obvious and not really debatable, and it’s a hell of a lot stronger than anything anyone said in the link you provided.”

                      Wrong. It can be reasonably inferred from what was said. Nick Smith indicated preferred that the parties work out their own differences rather than have him step in, and the commissioner option was not under active consideration. It hardly sounds like he was gagging to get into it.

                      “Sorry tsmithfield, I thought I was responding to the link you actually posted, not everything else you might or might not have read lately. See why I don’t trust you yet?”

                      Except it was widely publicised at the time, including on TV. You would have had to have been on another planet to have missed it. I’m sorry. Perhaps you were.

                      “Exactly, it’s your time frame related to your argument and nothing to do with anything I’ve said. Which is precisely why I’m extremely reluctant to bet with people like you.”

                      I made it clear I was happy for you to name any time frame you would have liked. A year seemed plenty of time, given the apparently sinister ambitions of the government that are barely holding themselves back.

                    • felix

                      First bit: No, I never framed them as mutually exclusive and anyone can scroll up and see the context.

                      Last bit: You don’t get to decide what I might think is a reasonable timeframe for your hypotheticals.

                      I’m not going to bother reading the rest of your comment as a quick skim indicates it’s just repetition of all the same bullshit I’ve already addressed.

                      You can carry on arguing with yourself as long as you like, I’m quite happy to let what I’ve said stand.

                • burt

                  tsmithfield

                  Do you think the bit where I said;

                  if I didn’t sit on your side of this debate I’d happily take you on

                  Would have sunk in if a lefty said it ?

    • burt 15.2

      Lefties… never prepared to put their own money where somebody else’s mouth is….

      • muzza 15.2.1

        Righties, always happy to put somebody else’s money in “their mates” pockets (usually borrowed offshore from other mates), while claiming expensives fees for consultancy work, then taking a directors role on the boards of the companies pockets they lined, while being a shareholder in the company that profited!

      • KJT 15.2.2

        Lefties. Pay taxes and work building the country up, after every time the right does their best to fuck it.

        • burt 15.2.2.1

          Yes, that right…. all them hard working tax payers… they all vote left don’t they…. all them hard core benefit rorters with a massive sense of entitlement to other peoples money… they voted for less benefits. Doooh!

          • muzza 15.2.2.1.1

            Actually I pay quite alot of tax, and what fucks me off more than anything, is the corporate facism of “the right” – whatever colour they happen to fly!

            Your talk of rights to others money is hilarious, as if “the right” do not think that, so take your ignorant stereotypes and…

            Jog on!

        • burt 15.2.2.2

          A decade of deficit forecast after 9 years of ‘prudent’ economic mis-management… yep, that’s building the county up. You lefties just never learn.

      • Righties – all in favour of the free market and condemning the role of Government in commerce – until they need to be bailed out.

        Lefties – having to bail out Corporations like Goldman Sachs, AIG, Bank of Scotland, General Motors, Lehmann Bros, our own Finance Companies, etc, etc, etc, since 2008.

        It would be hilarious – if it weren’t for our taxes propping up this rotting system.

    • tsmithfield 15.3

      “lprent: no bets around here please. Big bruvs one was a pain in the arse.”

      Yeah. I remember that.

      Anyway, I’ve done enough to make my point.

      Having said that, this one would be fairly easy to enforce. If the loser didn’t front up, you could just ban them until they did.

      [lprent: Why would I care? The only thing the bruv one reminded me was how long those turgid discussions drag on for. And yeah I know. To my eternal shame (and penultimate boredom) I threw gasoline on to the flames. ]

      • felix 15.3.1

        And what was your point again? Oh, that no-one trusts you. Fair enough.

        • tsmithfield 15.3.1.1

          Nah. That you are happy to make snide little remarks when it doesn’t cost you anything. But when it actually comes to putting something on the line for your beliefs, even if it is as trivial as having to grovel under the disguise of a pseudonym, you cower away and come up with the most pathetic excuses for avoiding the challenge.

          • felix 15.3.1.1.1

            1. Not that it’s any of your business, I’m not using a pseudonym.

            2. Why would I bet on something you just made up?

            3. These attempts to pretend I’ve said things I haven’t are just highlighting your poor character.

          • burt 15.3.1.1.2

            The lefties don’t like being proven wrong do they. Guess that’s why they keep repeating the same mistakes and f##king up the economy every time they touch it.

            • felix 15.3.1.1.2.1

              Proved wrong about what burt? I get proved wrong all the time so you’ll have to be more specific.

            • Dv 15.3.1.1.2.2

              GFC
              Yep that was the lefties fault!

              • burt

                Dv

                Well starting with the sub-prime mortgage crisis which was arguably a result of political pressure on large US state lenders to extend credit beyond normal risk criteria for better political outcomes… it probably was the lefties that f##ked it up.

                • dv

                  But who did the slicing and dicing and selling in the secondary market of the sub prime derivatives!!
                  Who pushed for the removal of the financial controls in the late 1990s
                  Who pulled huge bonuses?

                  • burt

                    Who wanted the better social indicators for home ownership ratios… Sorry dude wanting to gloat about percentages of home ownership in lower socioeconomic areas isn’t a righty thing to do. It’s a left leaning govt desire to look effective.

                    Sure like a lot of things the desire for better ‘looking’ outcomes was taken advantage of by the wealthy – the unintended consequences of social intervention. (lefty social intervention)

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The home ownership ratios were a deliberate ploy to increase leverage throughout the economy. “Real” lefties would have had public housing schemes, and not financed/subsidised the private sector for their profit making schemes.

                    • burt

                      Real lefties… now we are getting somewhere.

                    • muzza

                      Still buying into the left right scam eh…

                      Sad!

                    • burt

                      Oh muzza, keep up. It’s not just lefties and righties – It’s lefties, righties and real lefties.

                    • burt

                      muzza

                      I think the terms are complete crap, but it seems essential to acknowledge them on this blog because if you’re not a lefty you are the enemy !

                      How relevant was a simple classification from 1789 in todays political landscape ?
                      see wiki: Left-right politics

                      The term takes no account for anything that is important in how we consider politics. It’s the simple physical divide of a seating arrangement in a game of popularity.

          • tsmithfield 15.3.1.1.3

            “1. Not that it’s any of your business, I’m not using a pseudonym.”

            Fair enough. But it still doesn’t give enough information to identify you in the real world. So its pretty much the same in effect to a pseudonym.

            “2. Why would I bet on something you just made up?”

            Read my reply and the link I gave to you other recent post. Nick Smith said the council had “weeks not months” to sort their shit out. So, one year is actually being very generous to you, and its certainly based on a lot more than just making something up in my head.

            “3. These attempts to pretend I’ve said things I haven’t are just highlighting your poor character.”

            Nah. As I pointed out, you don’t really understand what you said, and you don’t take enough notice of what is being said in the media.

  16. peterlepaysan 16

    Christchurch will not be rebuilt while Fletchers screw every other building company
    to even operate in Christchurch in rebuilding.

    The terms and conditions they are demanding are driving building contractors away.

    The insurance company’s reluctance to pay is not helpful.

    John Key must really hate/fear Brownlee to have given him this poisoned chalice.

    • Fortran 16.1

      For the record – Insurance Companies will pay as and when the specific claims are settled.
      Overseas wholesalers are sitting on billions of dollars and are ready to settle when the insurance companies actually makes their claim.
      There is no shortage of money – thanks to the foresight of EQC in reinsuring a large part of their liabilty offshore.
      First – stop the city having aftershocks – lets hope that there is not another “Earthquake” – aftershocks show settlement, but it could take 10 years – after all it has not happened before in living or known history in Christchurch.
      Council should grow up and accept that the CBD cannot be resurrected. No insurance company will take the risk at present, because its overseas support insurer will not give protection.
      How many staff will return to the CBD – would you ?
      So get on with creating new, probably, satelites in the meantime.

  17. Rodel 17

    Talked with a Christchurch city councillor who said there really is no problem within the council except for the mayor. Said they all got along well, have robust debates and all work hard for the betterment of Christchurch albeit from different but not incompatible viewpoints.

    They are all annoyed by the Christchurch Press trying to undermine them with its false outrage and blame.
    The councillor I spoke to voted against the CEO’s salary increment; (I agree with that) but that it may be the intention of the Nats to appoint commissioners and create reasons why they should sell the council’s assets (the assets currently owned by people of Christchurch) similar to their strategy of selling us our own national assets. The Nats have never liked Christchurch’s ownership of strategic assets.. Remember the ‘People’s republic of Christchurch,’ comment by some forgotten right wing politician years ago.(Made into a popular bumper sticker by the then mayor).

    Some within the protest movement have been (mis)led to believe that new elections are the answer ; they have been influenced partially by the vendetta of the Press trying to convince people that the council as a whole is dysfunctional. It’s hard to see what the Press’s agenda is, apart from increasing sales.

    The only dysfunction I see is the officious attitude of the council triumvirate and the inability of the Press to be fair, balanced and unafraid. Yech!!

  18. vto 18

    Hey tsmithfield, I see you ignored my question above… I’ll try again.

    Do you believe that Wyatt Creech’s report (he who is being charged with dishonesty offences, is a former Nat govt mninister, and has a large owenership stake in the dairy industry) into Ecan was genuine, full and honest and was not a ploy to provide cover for the Nats to grab water for their daity farmer voters? If you do then you go against former judge Peter Skelton’s opinion on it.

    Secondly, do you think there is no possibility that the appointment of an “observer” could be a similar move to provide cover for a similar plan, such as grabbing the assets?

    Third, has anybody anywhere in your life conspired against you? Your boss, your partner, your colleagues, your neighbours? Do you imagine that conspiracies have never existed in the world?

  19. Red Rosa 19

    The ChCh September EQ, the February EQ, and the thousands of minor shocks in the last 18 months would be challenging for any group of organizations to deal with. The ChCh City Council is of course only part of the recovery picture, but a very visible and an elected part.

    Sadly, as in the stress of wartime, some people who in normal circumstances could do a competent job prove to be completely out of their depth. This seems to be the case now with Parker, and maybe the majority of the council.

    It is worth noting also that the ChCh Labour vote, in the 2011 general election held with all this vividly in mind, collapsed as badly as in the rest of NZ. It can be no comfort to the ChCh Left that ChCh Central, a safe Labour seat for 3 generations, was lost to National in November 2011, and the other Labour members fared badly too.

    Understandably, many ChCh residents are looking for effective and inclusive leadership to get the city back on its feet. It will need huge commitment from the whole community, but especially by business large and small, to restore jobs and infrastructure.

    All this is easily said. It may be that the existing organizations and processes are simply inadequate, and ChCh may be ready to accept this. Many of us who wish ChCh well are keeping an open mind meantime.

    • burt 19.1

      I tend to agree with you here. I’m just grateful we didn’t get Jolly Jim – imagine his approach… Lets ban earthquakes because just like drugs banning them will be sooooo effective !

      Oh, we could also ban reporting them because then people won’t know they are happening and that makes the problem go away as well !

  20. TighyRighty 20

    People are waking up to…? It’s there in code? Nats under the bed?

    Even if your tinfoil hat conspiracy theory is true, apart from Parker and maryatt, who gives a fuck? Christchurch need to be sorted out and this is proving difficult given the usual lefty cant’s on the council you’d expect in Christchurch.

    I do find your hypocritical outrage about maryatt hilarious though. I thought public servants should be paid heaps? Is it because he’s not a proper lefty that it’s ok to attack a public servant?

    • muzza 20.1

      “Even if your tinfoil hat conspiracy theory is true” – Love the use of the (not so subtle) run downs when adressing what is really just a reasonable line of thought…

      It is not mathematically possible for NZ to ever be able to pay off our foreign debt!

      Is that a conspiracy theory?

      You think you are in control of your own life, but really you have no idea the degree of control over you!

      • “It is not mathematically possible for NZ to ever be able to pay off our foreign debt!”

        Indeed.

        This may be off interest to neo-liberals, free marketeers, and others who have an unyielding faith in Friedmanite economics…

        I refer folks attention to the following graphs:

        New Zealand Current Account
        http://www.tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/current-account

        (extend Date Selection to 1965 from drop-down box)

        New Zealand Exports
        http://www.tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/exports

        (extend Date Selection to 1951 from drop-down box)

        As is plain to see, the more we export, the GREATER our current account deficit gets.

        Why?

        Because (amongst other things), profits from privatised SOEs; foreign owned farms; and foreign owned businesses are repatriated to overseas investors. (Eg; Aussie own banks which recently ‘exported’ $2 billion-plus back to Australia as dividends. That includes the privatised BNZ, and what used to to be the POSB.)

        If an exporter is foreign owned, the more they export, the more profits are made, and more dividends repatriated overseas.

        Which is the prime reason why selling farms – and other exporting companies – to overseas investors is an ultimately self-defeating exercise.

        The data shows the results.

        Data from both graphs are ex Statistics NZ.

        • Macro 20.1.1.1

          But you tell that to the Gosman’s of this world and they will never believe you! (With apologies to Monty)
          NRT has an excellent post on the export of NZ funds by Australian own banks, and the fundamental stupidity of hocking off more to foreign buyers.

        • Macro 20.1.1.2

          But you tell that to the Gosman’s of this world and they will NEVER believe you! (with apologies to Monty P)

          NRT has an excellent post on the export of NZ funds to Australia. With the corollary that continued sales of assets to foreign owners merely exacerbates the problem.

        • muzza 20.1.1.3

          Good stuff Frank..

          Our earnings have only exceeded our borrowings on less than a handfull of occasions since the creation of the national debt of NZ in 1833. Those occasions have all been temporary anomalies, food sales during WW2, Korean war wool boom, and proceeds of debt repayment crisis forced assets sales 1961-1999!

        • Colonial Viper 20.1.1.4

          I notice a major deterioration in the current account stats starting during the 5th Labour Govt. We needed to deal to the private debt bubble back then – but that would have hurt the top 20% of NZ society who were enjoying seeing house prices go through the ceiling.

          debt repayment crisis forced assets sales 1961-1999!

          I presume you mean 1991-1999 muzza.

          • muzza 20.1.1.4.1

            I use the date 1961, as that is the year NZ was first put into receivership at hands of IMF and we handed over our gold stocks for continued loans access…SOE sales came as a result of those loans later on…

  21. vto 21

    In case any of you dipsticks hadn’t noticed, the rebuild cannot get underway while the earthquakes are still going on. The last ones, several between 5.0 and 6.0, were only 6 weeks ago and resulted in many more buildings needing to come down. If the December 23 earthquakes had been the day before the Feb 22 ones then the city would have fallen under them, such was their scale.

    In addition, insurance is still not available for new builds. Nor is it available for Council infrastructure and assets. Surely the effect of a lack of insurance on financing builds doesn’t need explaining……. or maybe it does.

    There are a lot of comments, like Fran O’Sulivan’s piece, which do not even acknowledge this full frontal bit of reality. It is like the likes of Fran simply forgot these thiings when penning their comments, rendering their opinions worthless. tightpantsirghty, burt and tsmithfield all exhibit this with their comments above, as well as believing that conspiratorial behaviour is something only found in storybooks.

    Come back when you have a proper understanding and a thinking brain.

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      Christchurce building owners are taking the insurance money payouts for their destroyed buildings/houses and in many cases, I believe, deciding to re-invest that money in the only property market in NZ still experiencing strong capital appreciation. Auckland.

      • vto 21.1.1

        Yes. The vast bulk of building owners are, with their buildings, investors. They are in investment. They are not in business or in development or in trade or in anything else.

        Number one rule of investment is certainty.

        How much certainty is there in Christchurch at the moment? None.

        It is a simple flow of logic that sees this draining …

        And in fact that leads right around to the various issues raised around leadership here and its effect on certainty – both from within and from without. The lack of quality leadership etc which sees that uncertainty become even worse. Or rather, it sees the naturally existing uncertainty not being improved by the hand of leaders.

        And that in fact turns an awful lot on the point of mine made immediately above regarding the continuing earthquakes (next ones in May, apparently) and the lack of insurance.

        The whole thing really is a tangle of convolution and chain.

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