web analytics

A red-zoner on Lab’s Chch policy

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 pm, October 2nd, 2011 - 5 comments
Categories: disaster - Tags:

Gerry Brownlee has, predictably, been incredibly high-handed and insensitive in his handling of the Christchurch earthquake, especially when it comes to the red-zone. He created a clumsy, one-size fits all, buyout system and a Catch 22 for homeowners wanting to appeal by denying them access to the geotech data they need. Labour’s done much better. Here’s a Red-zoner’s view from the AvonsideChch blog.

———————————————

Scrutinising Labour’s policy

All political parties and policies deserve to be given close scrutiny, and critiqued as required. Some political policies have titles as strident, and meaningless, as headlines in the tabloid news. What lies behind them needs to be teased out. In doing this a balanced and informed approach is essential. One item in particular in Wednesday’s Press showed little enthusiasm for the latter part of this approach.

In the Perspective section of the Press (page A19), there is a piece prominently headed Stinging criticism of Labour’s generous Christchurch offer. In it the writer looks dismissively at Labour’s proposals to intervene in the property market and make land available at “affordable” prices. He is similarly dismissive of the proposal to intervene in the insurance industry. The overall supposition is that the policy is broadly interventionist, would exploit almost war-like powers, likely to become messy if Labour were given the chance to implement it, and likely to annoy those unaffected by the earthquakes.

While the article is in the nature of a comment, rather than insightful analysis and perspective, that is no excuse for inadequacy. The arguments put forward in discussing or dismissing the proposals demonstrate no understanding of either the past or the present.

The Past

Nothing in Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Plan is unprecedented in New Zealand. Perhaps it is now unknown that New Zealand (and the Labour Party) has a rich, if not always glorious, history of government participation in the areas of land, housing and insurance. Much of the intervention of the past has been in the face of strong political and vested-interest opposition, and yet has worked when the chance was available.


Government support for, and provision of, affordable land and housing has been a policy platform for a number of political parties since the 19th century. Affordable land and housing for servicemen was a significant factor in the rural and urban development of New Zealand. Land was balloted by the government for those who returned from wars. Not everyone was successful, but a scarce resource was distributed as fairly as could be done. Those who preferred to settle in urban areas after WWII had cheap mortgages made available via the government. From the 1930s many families who could afford neither home ownership nor private rentals had housing provided to them by the government.

All of these were interventionist policies based on enabling principles. Various government agencies came into being for these purposes: the Department of Housing Construction (building state houses along with Fletcher Construction), State Advances Corporation (low cost housing finance and management of state housing), Housing Corporation of New Zealand.

As for insurance – New Zealand has had government insurance companies since the second half of the 19th century – State Insurance, now since sold, and EQC which remains. The reasons for which government insurance was set up in the 19th century exist again today, and the Victorians were no less market oriented then than the National party is now.

Omitting the experiences and successes of the past makes the article seem plausible. However, in light of what has been achieved in the past, it may well be that what is envisaged is achievable. True, the policy does not spell out the detail but, as is the nature of all initial announcements of political policy, they are designed to paint the big picture. An attempt at a balanced article would have traversed this.

The Present

As far as the present is concerned, the writer says that intervention would not be popular with developers faced with losing an opportunity for profit. Quite understandable, but is it really a big issue? Why? The article continues:

“Labour leader Phil Gough talked about ‘price gouging’ and ‘profiteering’ among developers, but new sections are usually more expensive simply because they are bigger and, compared with quake-hit suburbs, safer.”

The first claim regarding price and size is a distortion of what is happening. For the amount being paid on land,  sections of a similar value are either unavailable or much smaller than those being abandoned in the Red zones.  Land of the same size is priced much higher than the value of that being left behind. In many cases sections can be both smaller and more expensive.

The claim that the sections now available are comparatively safer doesn’t stand up to scrutiny: safety isn’t an issue, stability is. Either way, not a single section is being sold with any guarantee that it is “earthquake safe”, so how can the price reflect this?

The article

The article is headed in large bold type “Stinging criticism …” as if this were the case. Despite this headline the article makes no mention of stinging criticism, let alone where it came from. As an aside, it is the biggest headline in the whole of that first section of the Press and so perhaps intended to be significant? Pity the content wasn’t as substantial as the headline that accompanied it. Despite the shortcomings of this article, there was an example of much poorer political journalism in Wednesday’s Press.

The editorial on page A18 called for more substance, and labelled Labour’s policy as “a fine-sounding wishlist”. Many of us would agree with these sentiments. However it is an odd observation to make, as all political parties turn out policies that are fine-sounding wishlists. The editor, after stating the Labour party has performed a useful service in putting forward ideas for discussion, then decrees that “This is largely driven by the party’s poor showing in opinion polls”.

It is both cynical and sordid to make the accusation that the policy exists primarily to boost popularity, rather than the result of any compassion or desire to help those who have suffered from the earthquakes and their aftermath. This is particularly so when aimed at a party that has a better history than any other of trying to help those in need. Unless evidence can be produced, such accusations should not be made. This tabloid-style approach to a complex and emotional subject ought to be left alone.

It is to be hoped this is not what our fare will be from now until the election.

5 comments on “A red-zoner on Lab’s Chch policy”

  1. bbfloyd 1

    “it is to be hoped that this is not what our fare will be from now until the election”… so what makes anyone think that the tactics, and agenda that has been standard practice for well over a decade will suddenly change?

    do we have any political journalists left here with any shred of independence from the corporate teat who have access to mainstream propaganda agencies? not to my knowledge…..

    do we have any senior journalists/presenters on our main tv channels that aren’t comfortably bedded deep within the national party structure? not to my knowledge…

    do we have newspapers that are “independent” from corporate oversight? … apart from possibly the otago daily times, none to my knowledge…

    do we have population willing, and open to “mature” political debate that uses reality as a basis for discussion? not that i’ve noticed…. but that says more about the decades of deliberate trivialising of serious issues for political gain by the corporates themselves than any lack of ability on the part of ordinary people…

    the fact that we have had labour governments at all is a herculean feat considering the lengths that the monied classes have gone to in order to bury the message under layer upon layer of self serving bullshit, and misapplication of the principles of true democracy…

  2. Cloaca 2

    Who sold off State Insurance to the Poms (who on-sold it to the Aussies) ?

  3. John Dalley 3

    Would that be ACT’s Roger Douglas in a Labour Party discuise?

  4. If I had the time I’d like to do a ‘discourse analysis’ of the politics-related headlines in The Press over the past months and on through to the election.

    Without being conspiratorial, the sub-editors seem to have an uncanny knack of minimising the positives and maximising the negatives when it comes to Labour policies and polling.

    The recent Fairfax poll, for example, was on page A7 with the headline “Poll’s slight lift cold comfort for Goff

    Compare that with the August (Aug 31st) front page story headlined “Greens gain as Labour dips” followed by these paragraphs:

    “The Greens have leapt to 11 per cent in today’s Fairfax Media-Research International Poll – and their rise has come at the expense of Labour, which has slumped to 25.7 per cent.
    With 86 days until the election, there are echoes of 2002 in the latest poll results.
    That year National crashed to a disastrous 20.9 per cent vote on election night, with their supporters panicked into voting strategically for the minor parties, particularly NZ First, after deciding Bill English had no hope of victory.” (emphasis added)

    Guess how far Labour ‘slumped’ in that poll from the previous one?- 3%

    Guess how much of a ‘slight lift’ Labour got in the latest Fairfax poll compared to its previous poll? – 2.4%

    It would seem that 0.6% (in a poll with a margin of error of 3+%) is the difference between a ‘slight shift’ upwards and a ‘slump’ downwards. And, of course, the ‘slump’ and the ‘echoes of 2002’ deserve front page billing whereas the ‘slight shift’ only merits page 7 – after stories on flesh-eating bugs, $43,000 spent by several council staff on credit cards and “Smelly slick catches rider out” (about a motorcyclist coming off his bike because of some excrement on the road) on page 2.

    Even then, the story is all about Goff’s – and Labour’s – bleak prospects. 

    Just as well it’s all merely a number of arbitrary differences that only the paranoid would get concerned about. 

  5. Pro_Rata 5

    Manly have just won the final, so Key cannot vicariously feed off the winning mana of the Warriors.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • DHB leadership renewed and strengthened
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says new appointments to DHBs represent a significant changing of the guard, with 13 new chairs including four Māori chairs. Today 76 appointments have been announced to complement elected board members, as well as eight elected members appointed as either chair or deputy chair.  Four ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 mins ago
  • Tabuteau to advance New Zealand’s trade and political interests with European partners
    Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Fletcher Tabuteau, is travelling to Germany, Poland, Austria, and Spain next week to bolster New Zealand’s political and trade relationships in Europe. While in Spain, Mr Tabuteau will represent New Zealand at the 14th Asia-Europe (ASEM) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Madrid. “New Zealand strongly supports ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Kris Faafoi
    “I’ve spoken to Minister Faafoi, who has apologised for his poor handling of this issue,” Jacinda Ardern said. “I have confidence in Kris as a hardworking and effective Minister, but this should have been dealt with in a much clearer manner, and I’ve made my views on that very clear ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Tonga-New Zealand Joint Ministerial Forum
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters met with Tongan Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa in Wellington today. The pair signed a Statement of Partnership setting out joint priorities for cooperation out to 2023.  “We welcomed Prime Minister Tu'i'onetoa on his first visit to New Zealand as Prime Minister. Tonga ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Shooting in Kurow
    The Minister of Police Stuart Nash says his sympathies are with the family of a man who died after being shot by Police in Kurow. “Initial reports are that Police were called by a family member to help the man who was threatening to harm himself,” Mr Nash says. “However ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Govt supports Southland farmers in sustainability
    Healthier waterways, better productivity and farmer wellbeing are front and centre in a new project involving more than 1000 Southland farmers and growers. Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor today announced that the Thriving Southland Change and Innovation Project is the first region-wide extension programme supported by the $229 million Sustainable ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Flood of support for Top of the South catchment
    Work to look after nature and restore freshwater quality in Te Hoiere/Pelorus River catchment is getting a significant boost, thanks to new Government funding support Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage announced in Canvastown today. “Every New Zealander should be able to swim in their local river without getting sick, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Eight Queen’s Counsel appointed under new criterion
    Eight Queen’s Counsel have been appointed under a process that includes the new criterion of a commitment to improving access to justice, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. “The new criterion was included this year. It emphasises that excellence and leadership in the profession can be seen through a wider, community ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Major expansion for Wellington’s Onslow College
    Onslow College in Wellington will get 20 new classrooms for more than 400 students, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. The much-needed investment will relieve growth pressure the school has been experiencing for some time. Seven existing classrooms which have deteriorated over time will also be replaced, bringing the total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Talented young Kiwis awarded PM’s Scholarships to Asia and Latin America
    More than 250 young New Zealanders will add international experience to their education, thanks to the latest Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia (PMSA) and Latin America (PMSLA), Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. This round of scholarships supports 252 recent graduates or current students to undertake study, research or internships ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government to improve competitiveness and transparency in the retail fuel market
    Consumers will benefit from a more competitive, transparent retail fuel market as a result of changes the Government will be making in response to the findings of the Commerce Commission’s study of the fuel sector. “We accept the Commission’s findings and, as the Prime Minister has said, we’re ready to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • More cancer medicines for more people
    Five new cancer medicines have now been funded this year, meaning thousands of people have more treatment options PHARMAC has today announced that it has approved two new medicines for funding – fulvestrant for breast cancer and olaparib for ovarian cancer. This follows earlier decisions on advanced lung cancer treatment alectinib, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government acts to sort out electoral ‘coin toss’ problem
    The Minister of Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta says the Government will consider making changes to local electoral legislation before the 2022 elections to fix the problems that have arisen where elections are settled by a coin toss.  The Minister says the recount process in the Murupara- Galatea ward at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ to Join IMO Convention to Reduce Ship Emissions
    New Zealand will sign up to new international maritime regulations to reduce ship emissions and lift air quality around ports and harbours, Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced today. Subject to completion of the Parliamentary treaty examination process, New Zealand will sign up to Annex VI of MARPOL, an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Bill to empower urban development projects
    New legislation to transform our urban areas and create sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities will tomorrow be introduced to Parliament, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said. “The Urban Development Bill gives Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities the tools it needs to partner with councils, communities, mana whenua and private developers to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Early Learning Action Plan to kickstart long term change
    Today’s launch of He taonga te Tamaiti: Every child a taonga: The Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029 provides the foundation for long-lasting changes to early learning, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.   “Early learning will be one of the Government’s top education priorities going into 2020,” Chris Hipkins said.   ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Climate change lens on major Government decisions
    Major decisions made by the Government will now be considered under a climate change lens, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. “Cabinet routinely considers the effects of its decisions on human rights, the Treaty of Waitangi, rural communities, the disability community, and gender – now climate change will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Tertiary Education Commission Board announced
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced the appointment of Māori education specialist Dr Wayne Ngata and Business NZ head Kirk Hope to the Board of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). Dr Alastair MacCormick has been reappointed for another term. “Wayne Ngata, Kirk Hope and Alastair MacCormick bring a great deal ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Next phase of Pike River recovery underway in time for Christmas
    The next phase of the Pike River Re-entry project is underway, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little says. “Fresh air will be pumped into the Pike River Mine drift this week, following acceptance of the plan for re-entry beyond the 170m barrier by New Zealand’s independent health and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Insurance contracts to become easier to understand and fairer for consumers
    New Zealand consumers will have greater certainty about their insurance cover when they need to make claims as a result of proposed government changes. “Insurance is vitally important in supporting consumers and businesses to be financially resilient when unexpected events happen,” Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • A new opportunity for Ngāpuhi collective and regional negotiations
    The Crown is providing an opportunity for the hapu of Ngāpuhi to rebuild its framework from the ground up for collective negotiations to deal with its historical Treaty claims, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little and Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The Crown is also ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Referendums Framework Bill passes third reading
    A Bill enabling referendums to be held with the 2020 General Election has passed its third reading. Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Act is important for upholding the integrity of New Zealand’s electoral process. “The Government has committed to holding a referendum on legalising recreational cannabis at the next ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Referendums website and initial cannabis Bill launched
    The first release of public information on the two referendums to be held at next year’s General Election was made today with an informative new Government website going live. Additionally, the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill has been released, showing the strict controls on cannabis that will apply if ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government to ban foreign donations
    The Government is taking action to protect New Zealand from foreign interference in our elections by banning foreign donations to political parties and candidates, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. Legislation will be introduced to Parliament this afternoon and passed under urgency. “There’s no need for anyone other than New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Governments and tech converge to strengthen joint response to online terror events
    Governments and tech companies are holding a two-day workshop, hosted by YouTube/Google in Wellington, to test the Christchurch Call Shared Crisis Response Protocol. The workshop aims to refine and strengthen the response in the event of a terrorist attack with online implications. Companies, governments, civil society experts and NGOs will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Cancer Control Agency to drive improved care
    The new independent Cancer Control Agency has formally opened today, delivering on the Government’s plan to improve cancer care in New Zealand.         Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Health David Clark marked the occasion by announcing the membership of the Advisory Council that will be supporting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Supporting small business to prosper
    Small businesses who deal with government departments are set to be paid faster and have improved cash flow as a result, under a new strategy released today. The Government is backing recommendations from the Small Business Council (SBC) and has agreed to implement three initiatives immediately to support business and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Bill has biggest education changes in decades
    The Education and Training Bill 2019, introduced in Parliament today, proposes the biggest education changes in decades and is an important step towards improving success for all our learners, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “The Bill’s rewrite of education legislation is long overdue. Indeed one Education Act, parts of which ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Bali Democracy Forum to focus on democracy and inclusivity
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio will travel to Bali to represent New Zealand at the 12th Bali Democracy Forum that will be held on the 5-6 December. “The Forum is a valuable opportunity for Asia-Pacific countries to share experiences and best practice in building home-grown democracy and fostering ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Innovative technology and tools to better manage freedom camping
    A package of new and expanded technology and other tools will encourage responsible camping and help communities and local councils better manage freedom camping this summer, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. “Our Government has been investing to improve the freedom camping experience for everyone because we want to support ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Improving wellbeing by understanding our genes
    The government is laying the groundwork to understanding our genes – work that can help us tackle some of our biggest health challenges, like heart disease and diabetes, says Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods. $4.7 million has been invested in the Genomics Aotearoa Rakeiora programme. The programme will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government investing to future proof school property
    Nearly every state schools will receive a capital injection next year valued at $693 per student to bring forward urgent school property improvements, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.  The one-off cash injection is the first project to be announced from the Government’s infrastructure package ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Infrastructure investments to be brought forward
    The Government has decided to bring forward major investments in New Zealand’s infrastructure to future proof the economy. “Cabinet has agreed to a significant boost to infrastructure investment. I have directed the Treasury to help bring together a package of projects that can be brought into the Government’s short and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Future-proofing New Zealand
    It is a great pleasure to be with you today in Whanganui. Like the Prime Minister I grew up with the TV clip of Selwyn Toogood booming “What do you say Whanganui, the money or the bag?” to an unsuspecting ‘It’s in the Bag’ audience. For those under the age ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand’s newest Great Walk, the Paparoa track opened – an asset for the West Coast
    New Zealand’s newest Great Walk, the Paparoa Track, was officially opened in Blackball today by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage alongside the family members of the Pike 29 and Ngāti Waewae.  Local mayors and MP for the West Coast Hon Damien O’Connor were also in attendance. “Paparoa National Park ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • P-8A Poseidon base works commence
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark turned the first sod of earth on the infrastructure works for the new P-8A Poseidon fleet at RNZAF Base Ohakea today. “The Coalition Government’s investment in Ohakea will ensure the Royal New Zealand Air Force can manage, maintain and task the new fleet efficiently ahead ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Launch of the National Emergency Management Agency
    Civil Defence Minister Hon Peeni Henare today announced the establishment of the new National Emergency Management Agency from 1 December 2019.  The National Emergency Management Agency will replace the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management. It will be an autonomous departmental agency, hosted by the Department of the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • NASA 2020 Internship applications open
    New Zealand tertiary students with top grades and a passion for space will once again be offered the opportunity to work with the world’s best and brightest at NASA, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Recipients of the New Zealand Space Scholarship are nominated by the Ministry of Business, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand to send more medical staff and essential supplies to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced further support to Samoa in the wake of an ongoing measles outbreak in the country. Additional medical supplies and personnel, including a third rotation of New Zealand’s emergency medical assistance team (NZMAT), further nurse vaccinators, intensive care (ICU) specialists and Samoan-speaking medical professionals, will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cost less of a factor for Kiwis seeking GP care
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says new data showing a sharp drop in the number of people who can’t afford to visit their GP is a sign of real progress. One year after the Government made it cheaper for about 600,000 Kiwis to visit their doctor, results of the New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago