John Hartevelt is shocked by National’s decision to pay for the rebuilding of AMI Stadium’s turf and financing flights to Auckland for Cantabrians with tickets for the Rugby World Cup games that have been moved:
“It’s not just the people of Christchurch shaken up by the quake. The National Party seems to have lost some of its moral-political bearings too.
First, it’s dishing out cash to rebuild an uninsured part of a debt-laden business. Next, it’s cooking up a subsidy for predominantly well-off rugger fans to enjoy a boozy weekend up north. What happened? Weren’t we supposed to be “tightening the belt” and throwing every last dollar that dropped out towards rebuilding Christchurch’s infrastructure and sheltering those made homeless?”
I don’t think that the National Party has lost any of its moral-political bearings. This is completely in keeping with everything they have done in government and their core, elitist philosophy.
Bailing out anything that is uninsured is not something that a government of any stripe would normally go anywhere near. The reason moral hazard escaped the government’s purview this time was, it seems, politics.
I recall after the last quake we were told that maybe 5% of homes are uninsured, which is about 5,000 damaged in the quake zone. They got no bailout because the government says it would create a moral hazard. But an uninsured business does. Surely, the risk of moral hazard is actually greater with a business.
V-Base was in a $75.2m debt hole before the quake and they were looking towards the Rugby World Cup as a money-spinner. Appreciating what was being taken from Christchurch and with an eye on getting Super Rugby back to the stadium next year, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully had the multimillion-dollar cheque signed within 48 hours.
But for a government so keen on repeating rhetoric about scrutinising every last cent, it was not an impressive outlay.
V-Base is so far in debt partly because they’ve spent big on new stands for dwindling crowds. It’s a struggling business and a risky government investment.
There is an argument that rugby is important to the local economy, but so are a lot of things that were busted by the quake.
Yup. I wonder how many of the 5,000 jobs lost so far could have been saved if the government had been willing to write a $4.1 million cheque, as it was for AMI Stadium’s grass.