It’s not been a good week for Gerry. First he walked through the wrong door and caused a major security issue at Christchurch airport, and offered to resign to the PM – and offer that a number of commentators said the PM should have accepted. Perhaps more importantly, the people of Ilam agree. Now, he’s have trouble with basic maths. In response to a story about the slow rate of the rebuild, Brownlee said this:
It was estimated that 1500 new homes were needed in Christchurch City between 2012 and 2016
He used this to try and say that the rebuild was actually ahead of schedule. This was an act of sophistry totally removed from reality. A Press article from March puts the number of houses being demolished in the residential red zone at 8000. That doesn’t include houses that are uninhabitable in other suburbs, which takes the total number of houses that have gone out of the market due to the quakes to somewhere between 11,000 and 12,000. Gerry’s figure of 1500 would mean that only about 1/8th of the houses lost in the quakes need to be replaced. How he could get to that figure is a mystery.
Throughout the last few years Brownlee has consistently denied that there is a housing crisis, despite almost every sign pointing to one. Just this morning, the Press reported that the average rent in Christchurch is just $20 a week less than in Auckland – an increase of 13% in the last year alone. Yet those who live in Auckland and pay Auckland rents also earn significantly more on average than people down here. But Brownlee – who is of course a landlord himself – has said that the market will sort out rents in the city. Well, the market has had 3 and half years to sort itself out, and it has led to rents getting to the point where they are really hurting our must vulnerable people. It’s time to admit that the market can’t solve this crisis.
What we need in Christchurch is more houses, now. Affordable, well-designed, well-insulated houses. Lots of them. This is why Labour’s Kiwibuild scheme will roll out 10,000 houses in Christchurch in the first 4 years. People have waited too long for the invisible hand. Labour believes that the government has a strong role to play in alleviating the considerable stresses in the Christchurch housing market. Not only do National deny that there is a housing crisis in Christchurch, they have left the rebuild in the hands of a man who demonstrated at the airport last Thursday a level of arrogance that suggests he is completely out of touch with the people he is meant to be representing. While the PM may have chosen not to accept his resignation, the people of Ilam don’t have to: they have the chance to show Gerry the exit door on the 20th of September by voting Labour and voting for James Macbeth Dann.