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Heck of a job Brownlee

Written By: - Date published: 1:22 am, April 30th, 2011 - 63 comments
Categories: disaster, Gerry Brownlee, housing - Tags: ,

The government has spent $1 million so far on 350 campervans for Christchurch. One person stayed in them. For that money, better to put them up at Premier House and commute them by Iroquois. There is a massive housing need in Christchurch – apparently thousands have registered interest in temporary houses – but the campervans were so shitty and expensive people preferred overcrowded or damaged houses, or just left town.

Meanwhile, actual temporary houses will start going up some time next month and hopefully be finished some time in winter. The Japanese will have 30,000 temporary houses finished in a month’s time. we’ll be lucky to have one.

Can anyone tell me why we made a guy who can’t even organise some temporary houses in 3 months our dictator?

Reminds me of another disastrous disaster recovery leader.


63 comments on “Heck of a job Brownlee ”

  1. HC 1

    Well some guys are unable to organise a piss-up in a brewery, are they not?

    Gerry Pie Face Brownlee belongs to that peculiar group of people.

    If this is true as you write it, then this is yet another F*** Up by an incompetent government.

    But our PM is too busy dancing on the wedding of Willy and Kate.

    See where the priorities lie?

    Photo ops for the public, promises (like verbal diorrhea) and nothing much behind it.

    • Deadly_NZ 1.1

      But why have we not heard a squeak about this from Labour?? There is so much ‘Ammo’ out there re Act takeover, This Bullshit from brownlee But all I hear is Silence, nothing, nix,nada,zero, zip, zilch, I have to ask are they all asleep or just don’t care anymore??? Which means they are believing the polls and are getting ready to die, nicely and quietly, with a whimper not a shout.

      • HC 1.1.1

        Labour will only survive if they finally wake up and start a real political offensive in the coming months, or if that does not happen, by a kind of revolt and revolution from the bottom ranks, presumably largely union based.

        That is how I see it, and like you ‘Deadly_NZ’ I am both shocked and mystified by the absence of comments, statements and the release of true alternative policy.

        It seems that the MPs are away on holidays with their kids and or partners, preparing for their personal careers after the feared defeat in November and do not really care too much about the people that voted for them.

        I can only say to Phil Goff: Let the new breed step up and make room for more aggressive and more in tune new “leaders”.

        Problem is, there are only a few names that may spring to mind.

        • handle

          You did see their tired party list, right? Unless some heads are kicked right now inside Labour most of the new blood won’t get a look in as their vote collapses.

          • HC

            Maybe they need a Brash style Coup D’Etat?

            If there is not enough present “talent” with will power, charisma and the necessary leadership skills, then they should perhaps place adverts in the newspapers – like “New competent leader wanted”???

            NZ has become even more of a country dominated by self serving individuals who only care about their personal careers, their privileges and their over inflated personas. I also see too many people just too indifferent, poorly informed or resigned to the feeling that they cannot change anything.

            The brain drain will see to it that we will have to sell the land for a bar of soap to Australia or any other country that may decide to “look after” us and get us out of this shit.

            I hope that some leading Labour MPs read this!

        • Rodel

          Ruth Dyson and her Labour colleagues are working their butts off in Christchurch, getting help for people, organising resources, not poncing around in front of TV cameras and getting on the news.
          They are doing the real work, not seeking political capital or photo opportunities.

          Journalists are unable to get good copy on this kind of work as it doesn’t present good photo ops, is down to earth but not sensational enough to sell newspapers- which let’s face it, is their bottom line.

          One hopes that the Christchurch residents,home owners and business people alike remember which politicians were the most useful in a practical sense when they come to vote.

          • HC

            Fair enough! I accept your point re this, but Labour is not only based in Christchurch and has a wider network of members and supporters.

            That means there should be others able to carry out some more aggressive and firm activities that enables Labour to get more “profile” again.

            Like mentioned by a poster above, there are so many things happening that are basically laid at the feet or served on a platter to Labour leaders to take up and comment on. It cannot just be due to the biased media that we do not hear much.

          • handle

            The MPs are doing good on-ground work for their constituents. But Labour’s back room has been feeble at communicating that as part of an overall strategy to secure votes, or holding the government accountable for their failures. Residents will not magically “remember” in the face of more competent political communication from National and Act during the election campaign unless it is countered with skill and passion and stamina. Blaming the media will not help either.

            • Rodel

              Accepted! just wanted to make a point.
              Yes its a wider issue and no they won’t remember.

            • jcuknz

              The media are left wing anyway so you definitely cannot blame them for the problem LOL.

              • HC

                Hah! Which media in NZ is “left wing”? Certainly not the private and “maintream” media like APN, Fairfax, Mediaworks, all radio stations except National Radio, Sky, TV3, C4, all the “local community papers”, all magazines, bla, bla, bla!

                Even the supposedly “public” television broadcasting via ONE and TV2 is managed and run along commercial standards.

                Or do you think they are owned and run by community or socialist “collectives”???

                The present government is hell bent on abolishing public broadcasting altogether!

                So troll off to your mates.

  2. felix 2

    One. Person. Oh to the em eff gee.

    Only a few weeks ago Farrar, tsmithfield, Chris73 and the others were telling us what a cost effective affordable solution the govt had come up with.

    Guess there’s only one person in Christchurch who knows a good deal when they see one, eh?

    The bigger question though: What sort of parasitic, heartless, mercenary government charges money to victims of a natural disaster for emergency shelter?

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Yeah, it seems kind of odd that they would rent them wholesale like that, and then try and recoup the costs from people staying in them. Look what happened – no one stayed, and it ended up being a sunk cost.

      I think if they were going to charge anything at all, it should only be a token amount, like $50/week or a $200 establishment fee or something – just to try and stop people taking them for granted or moving in and out as other options became available.

      • Kaplan 2.1.1

        John, ‘Money Trader’, Key has shown over and over again that under his leadership all the government seems to be able to do is lose money. Super fund, SCF, budget reviews, BMW’s, camper vans… record deficit… FFS

        • Deadly_NZ

          It makes you want to ask the question. How the fuck did he manage to make 50 Mil??
          Hell on those figure’s I wouldn’t trust him to balance a cheque book.

  3. Jenny 3

    People were actually having to pay to stay in these things?

    It had slipped my attention that there was a charge for this so called disaster relief.

    I had just presumed (probably along with many others), that this emergency relief was being provided by the government, and didn’t pay any further attention to the matter.

    It shocks me to realise that people in grievous need who may have lost everything, were actually having to pay for emergency accommodation?

    I am staggered.

    And the government had to pay for it as well?

    Surely this must be a world first for disaster relief?

  4. Jenny 4

    Several weeks ago when I had heard that these camper vans were being unused I couldn’t imagine why this was so.

    As an Aucklander, trying to imagine what it would have been like to have been in a Christchurch family left with nothing due to an earthquake. I felt I would have been grateful of even a camper van to shelter in.

    I couldn’t even imagine that after having lost everything that someone would be trying to make money out of my misfortune.

    I had thought that maybe there must be no serious accommodation crisis, or homelessness in Christchurch after all.

    After realising that the only “relief accommodation” was a camper van that you had to rent, I wonder what the real situation of families left with nothing is.

    Are they all right?

    What is their situation?

    Are they being cared for?

    Has anyone actually checked?

    • Andy-Roo 4.1

      Lots of people are just living in badly damaged homes.

      If you have a mortgage, no job and no insurance left, you don’t have much in the way of options.

      Right now due to the number of people that have left the city there is “low cost” rental accommodation available, (and this was known in the commmunity housing sector before someone had a brain fart and lined up these useless campervans, against the advice of people on the ground here…), but the people who need it most just cannot pay.

  5. KJT 5

    It is much worse than that. People still living in garages and tents since the first earthquake.
    It will be 12 months down the track and still no permanent or even temporary housing in place.

    No chances of even getting their houses fixed for at least two years. Can’t engage their own builders because it is all supposed to be co-ordinated by Fletchers etc. Joke!

    Porta-loos have been removed despite publicity saying do not use flush toilets.

    Insurance companies are waiting and see-ing or refusing to pay out until they have an idea of total costs. Home owners cannot even get a lump sum to sort out their own demolition and builders.

    Parades of half trained assessors go through, some saying houses should be demolished, others that they are repairable.

    Fletchers are offering rates for builders that would not be worth the time of any half decent tradespeople. Any that are too old or too patriotic to go to Oz.

    The whole thing is another fuck-up with another leaky homes type scandal further down the track as reconstruction by the cheapest, unskilled labour they can find hits home.

    • Jenny 5.1

      “People still living in garages and tents since the first earthquake.
      It will be 12 months down the track and still no permanent or even temporary housing in place.”


      KJT, I presume that you are from Canterbury, and so know the real situation, thank you for filling me in. This situation is definitely not being conveyed to the rest of the country.

      In fact the well publicised news that the holiday camper vans provided for the homeless had been left unused, gave us in the rest of the country the impression that Christchurch citizens could afford to be choosy, and therefore that their need couldn’t be that great.

      • KJT 5.1.1

        I am from Northland, feeling pretty lucky at present, but most of our staff are from Christchurch. All of them and every one they know have the same problems. 100% of a fairly large sample.
        For example, two of our staff with condemned houses have been occasionally staying at work because the option is their car with no sewage and showers courtesy of friends on the other side of Christchurch. One, whose wife has health problems, has sent her to their daughters place while he has to stay behind to deal with insurance companies and EQC. They have seen each other twice since the first quake.

        The company have helped with extended leave for Canterbury staff after each quake.

        No noticeable help from the Government so far.

        • HC

          Give it a few more months and those affected will start expressing their frustrations and dissatisfaction to the government, same as the families of the Pike River Mine disaster victims are now doing.

          Does anybody wonder about all this. It is the result of decades of “laissez faire” economics and politics, where the government only delivers minimal last resort support like and ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, rather than prepare for any such disasters.

          So there are over burdened council staff, poorly trained insurance assessors and commissioned building companies left in charge to sort the mess out.

          And do not forget who promoted “user pays” in the early 1990’s! It was National as far as I can remember. For them it is “fair” to charge the homeless with more or less market rents for caravans and temporary shelters.

          If the affected cannot cope they will be sent to WINZ, where they get asked hundreds of questions before they may get a miserly accommodation allowance (if they have no job, income and no substantial assets).

          Great life in neo liberal economic wonderland called New Zealand!

          With Don Dagger Brash’s ACT d’etat we may soon have tin and cardboard shelters for the homeless who cannot bother “making an effort to get off their bums”.

          • KJT

            User pays and the great asset giveaway was the first ACT Government in 1984. National in 1990 just continued with the culture of mean spiritedness.
            Building rules were deregulated and privatised by the 1990 National government as they continued the slash and burn.

  6. Jenny 6

    For $190 a week, to cram your family into a van.

    This is not aid, this is punishment.

    You would be better off trying to survive in the remains of your condemned house, and sleeping in your own car.

    • Bill 6.1

      $190 plus still paying rent on your previous rented accommodation or the mortgage on your house.

      Meanwhile, you just got unemployed. And the strange government subsidy that is in excess of the normal UB etc is about to run out.

      And the poorer you are, the less able you are to ‘take off’ and get out of Christchurch. And it was the poorer suburbs that got hammered.

      Oh, and I didn’t go through the links, but did they mention that the vans are located in New Brighton…one of the hardest hit areas and prone to liquifaction?

      Aside from all the other issues around this, I wonder why they didn’t locate the vans out to the west?

      edit. So just noticed some of those points were made in the original post about this bullshit. Still. Worth repeating.

      • Shaz47 6.1.1

        The vans are not in New Brighton and are safe from liquifaction
        The vans are located (Google map) longitude172.5843134956792 latitude 43.55079723817987, which is on Halswell Road, on the way to Lincoln Uni, sort of south east from the city square. They are about as out of town as you could possible get without actually being out of town. Limit bus service and all the van are guarded by security guards and are behind a high fence. Driving past is like driving past a prison. No one in their right mind would stay there.

        • Lanthanide

          They’re at the AMP show grounds, which comes off the motorway, not Halswell Road. South west of the city centre. They’re not “out of town” at all – I just drove past them 10 minutes ago on the way too and from my house to the supermarket.

          I didn’t see any security guards, and there’s no “big high fence”. It doesn’t look like you’re driving past a prison at all, it looks like you’re driving past a holiday park.

          I get the impression you don’t even live in Christchurch.

          • Shaz47

            It’s amazing when two people drive past the same thing but see different things. Yes I live in Christchurch and they are out of reach for most of those affected. Transport will be a big issue but as you were ‘DRIVING’ past it would not be an issue to you!! And yes Halswell Road is just 100 meters up the road, just pointing out the where abouts and people may get a better idea of the area if they know the general layout, you dipstick. I have been past many times and the guards have always been there. They may be gone now because no one used them and the contract with the company finished yesterday. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/4942205/Campervans-flop-with-quake-homeseekers .

    • Irascible 6.2

      That rate is for ONE person. The charges go up to over $300 for a family of four.

  7. rd 7

    Japan has a population of 127 million we have 4m\
    On that ratio we should have 1000 temporary homes in a month.

    Jenny has some good questions

    Are they all right?

    What is their situation?

    Are they being cared for?

    Has anyone actually checked?

  8. infused 8

    Has anyone actually checked how many houses are for rent in Christchurch?

  9. Just think how many wool underlays and wool duvets this would have purchased for when the power goes out in Christchurch during the cold weather. The electric blanket and the heater just aint going to do it.

    Did anyone do any proper market research into how many people would live in a camper van and what they were prepared to pay for the rental of one?

  10. r0b 10

    In the meantime Japanese families were moving into proper emergency homes within a month and these were rent free for two years.

    Thanks National – Christchurch is loving it.

    • handle 10.1

      If anyone in Christchurch votes for National in November they need their heads read.

      • Andy-Roo 10.1.1

        There are still a relatively large proportion of CHCH residents out west who are relatively unaffected and ignorant of conditions in the east. Although this is not universal!

        On day 2 after the quake, despite the fact that my own house was being dug out of the shit, I was called back into work, and had to deal with one of the other managers complaining about “goldbrickers” because only 10% of the staff showed up.

        Fortunately I was able to put him right, and in its way my employer has tried hard to do right by it’s worst effected staff – but there are still a large number of people in CHCH itself who just don’t get it.

        And as for the arsehole I saw on “Stuff” yesterday complaining about the north island subsidising CHCH yesterday, words just fail me.

      • jcuknz 10.1.2

        Of course there is the argument that if they had voted for National in the past they would get better treatment today?

        • Alma Rae

          Most people in the east of Christchurch would be very surprised to hear that there is an argument that if they had voted National they would be better off. That includes me. What argument??? Which planet are we talking about?

  11. David 11

    There are 1400 places to rent in Christchurch city via trade me plus the ones with rental companies not listed there. Numbers dipped to 1127 on trade me and have risen since then.
    I guess the number of people who have left the city is roughly equal to the number of uninhabitable homes. Bit of a waste of money on campervans.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Yeah I see 1041 places on Trademe for rent in Christchurch, which are under $350 pw.

      Should have checked myself before.

  12. Jum 12

    They have just gone through all that and they would have to pay at least $190 a week for a caravan along with hundreds of others?


    I don’t remember hearing anything about having to pay rental in the news.

    Where would that money have gone – back to Christchurch householders or to the businesses there?

  13. Adrian 13

    When you do a back of the envelope rough calc, it looks like the Fat Controller was trying to recoup all of the cost from the poor buggers who were going to be in them. Arsehole.

  14. DS 14

    There are still a lot of people down here bunking in friends/families spare rooms/lounges or staying in condemned housing (condemned doesn’t necessarily mean unsafe) – although I wouldn’t want to stay in my place if it was condemned. But if I had to pay $190 per week (which I can’t afford) to stay in a caravan… given the lengthy rebuilding process will take it’s likely to exceed the temp accommodation benefit in my insurance… I’d probably have to.

    Given the issues around overcrowding, poor heating, increased poverty, increased cost of food, increased unemployment there’s going to be substantial issues when it comes to physical health, mental health and domestic abuse this winter.

    Perfect time to cut funding to social services like Women’s Refuge.


  15. FredD 15

    Camping out in a Christchurch winter ?

    Character forming

    .. but don’t ask about voting intentions.

    • Mac1 15.1

      How do those camping out in other’s places go for residence in terms of voting in November? Will all those Christchurch East dwellers who are camping out in the West with the rich and less damaged rellies and friends get to vote in Ilam? Or Selwyn?

      • handle 15.1.1

        Would not be surprised if big Gerry makes them vote in whatever is left of Bexley. Same with all those who have moved to other cities. Should keep dissent to a minimum.

  16. I’d still be interested in how polling organisations are allowing for the dislocation of many people in Christchurch? The motels on Riccarton Road are pretty jam packed most days I go along it in a bus (i.e., ‘No Vacancy’ signs). People are bunking down with friends and relatives (and wouldn’t be the ones answering the phone/responding to surveys where they reside). There are still plenty of people away from town (once again, they’d be less likely to respond to surveys where they’ve gone). To just keep calling until you get enough ‘Christchurch’ responses would probably bias it towards the West (i.e., over-represent that part of Christchurch in any sample).

    My sense is that there’s not a lot of support for CERA and a lot of suspicion of what the government would impose on Christchurch (partly for ‘economic’ reasons). I can’t see a swing to the government this election down here or, for that matter, the same amount of support as in 2008.

  17. Jenny 17

    There has been many comments made on this post that make me suspect there could be more to this scandal than just plain total incompetence.

    As I understand it.

    The government against the advice of people on the ground, gave $1million dollars to a camper van company to rent them out, at a $190 dollars a head?

    The deal was with no strings attached, on whether anyone took up this offer or not.

    (Whatever happened to the much vaunted government accountability and targeted expenditure?)

    Another reckless and expensive bailout of a favoured private company at the public’s expense?

    If I have got this straight, the only beneficiary of this “relief”, was the owner of the camper van company, and not the homeless. There are only two alternatives: This incredible waste of public money was either due to stupidity, or corruption.

    To rule out the second option, It would bear a close look at this business person’s personal links if any, to the National Party. If it turns out this scandal is just the result of stupidity: What an incredible windfall this was for this lucky company; to be paid for vehicles that would have been just standing around empty anyway due to the almost total collapse of tourist visitors to Canterbury, to be gifted $1million for nothing.

    Surely the whole concept of charity has been turned on its head.

    A hard done by business person who lost trade due to the earthquake is gifted $1million, (as well as any rent they could squeeze out of the earthquake victims). While those made homeless and in real need are crushed in with neighbours, relatives and friends who are not given a cent by the government for their instinctive generosity. (not that they have asked for it.)

    If this “charitable” business owner had any conscience then they would donate their whole unearned $1million back to the disaster relief fund.

    Whether they will be made to or not, no doubt the Government will tell us that they had no choice. That the government has no option but to give rich people lots more of the public’s money.

    Contracts Blah… Trickle down Blah…. Things would be worse if we didn’t Blah

    Blah… Blah… Blah…, Blah Blah.

    This really is stupidity.

    • jcuknz 17.1

      It was basically a good idea that didn’t take into consideration the people involved and obviously run by bean-counters who insist on their pound of flesh. Well we know what happened to Shylock. But I doubt that happening in today’s world.

    • Lanthanide 17.2

      I believe they rented the campervans from several different companies.

  18. Galeandra 18

    Too Jenny et al
    “Jenny has some good questions

    Are they all right?

    What is their situation?

    Are they being cared for?

    Has anyone actually checked?”

    A lot of angry assertions about the poor effort in Chch but most of us have seen little evidence in the media of these logistical/organisational failures.
    Surely a low tech solution to getting evidence and message out would be a few well produced youtube clips? That might even wake the media up.
    Are there people in Christchurch who could do that now? They needn’t be from the local LEC either- this is really a supra-political issue, as any reasonable person doesn’t want to see slackness of the sort that is said to be happening.
    Being apolitical might actually help to give Nact a bigger serve, in fact?

  19. tsmithfield 19

    This campervan argument is one of the dumbest I’ve seen on “The Standard”.

    By the same argument money spent on insurance is wasted if a claim never eventuates. However, we can’t make plans in hindsight. If people can’t understand the concept of “contingency” then there is no help for them.

    • felix 19.1

      You’re right of course.

      Even though no-one has found the campervans to be worth using, it’s a good thing the govt put those contingency measures in place just in case, you know, Chch gets hit by 2 major earthquakes or something.

      ‘Cos then they’d be definitely used and wouldn’t all us doubters have egg on our faces, eh?

      • Jenny 19.1.1

        In reply to Felix, ( who is Right of course); If “you know, Chch gets hit by 2 major earthquakes or something” then people will definitely not have the extra necessary resources to pay for this “disaster relief”. So the government would definitely have to provide the campervans free.

        ‘Cos if they didn’t, they’d be definitely still unused, and it would be the government who would have egg on their faces, eh?

  20. Kevyn 20

    Jenny, Why should this business owner be made to give away a million dollars of legitimate income. If you look at the facts his/her only sin was to have these ex-rental campervans parked-up on a vacant section right next to The Press printery on Logistics Dr. The government could hardly leave them there where journalists might realise that a supply of high quality portable housing existed in Christchurch that could be driven right into the heart of Aranui/Bexley/Wainoni. Much better to put out them out of the way somewhere to make sure that the media don’t derail plans for “proper” temporary housing.

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