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Key’s priorities laid-bare

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, February 7th, 2011 - 24 comments
Categories: class war, national/act government - Tags: , , , , , ,

When a millionaire director and a foreign corporate wanted millions in tax breaks, Key jumped to it. When SCF collapsed the investors got an average of $60K, no questions asked. But when it comes to helping the ordinary families of Christchurch and the West Coast, the government’s nowhere to be seen once the cameras are gone.

The Press is running a series of articles this week looking at the state of the recovery from the earthquake, five months after the big shake. The series itself is surely intended to be a wake-up call to the government. All indications are that Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee is AWOL and the recovery is being left in the hands of the vainglorious and otherwise inept mayor, Bob Parker. All Parker seems to be doing is complaining about the “whole lot of voices out there … almost too many” (ie. criticism) and accusing MPs who are trying to help their constituents of trying to make political capital out of the disaster (this coming from the guy who was on TV every chance he could get in his high-vis jacket before the election). Parker says he wants one voice – that is, he wants critics of his uselessness to shut up.

People aren’t happy. Just check the comments on The Press articles:

“What is the mayor’s preference? a single voice perhaps? his by any chance? Sorry, this is NOT the Bob (side)show…if the recovery was well co-ordinated the messages coming from various parties would be clear and congruent, the fact that they are not reflects the utter mess that’s going on behind the scenes!

Yes, the city is pulling apart, it’s been 5 months and things are worse for many people now than they were immediately post earthquake. Good luck with your efforts to control information Mr Mayor, historically I think you’ll find it’s a policy that hasn’t worked out that well…”

“I’ve got to say how impressed I’ve been with Brendan Burns… doing the job quietly and efficiently. Unlike Messers Brownlee and Parker. Where has Parker been, anyway?”

“I would also like to add that Lianne Dalziel has done a fantastic job through out. The National list MP for Kaiapoi has all of a sudden “come out of the woodwork” to hold a public meeting next Thursday night and shes even got Mr Brownlee coming. hmmm now whos using our situation to get votes… Please vote Labour, then get Lianne Dalziel, Brendan Burns and Clayton Cosgrove to sort our situation as Brownlee doesn’t even know whats going on. ”

“Brendon Burns is our MP he has been fantastic in helping residents on the east side and not once have I heard him making any political statements unlike Gerry Brownlee, Bob stop dicking about with blessings and get on with it, Gerry pull ya finger our and make some decison that will get lives back on track”

and so on and so on.

Meanwhile, the West Coast was promised an economic package to help it through the loss of Pike River. Gerry Brownlee initially said ‘wait until January’. Well, January’s been and gone and still nothing. Brownlee promised job creation on the Coast. Instead, the government is firing 60% of the staff at the DoC regional office.

When you put this in the context of a government that has seen wages drop, let unemployment soar to around 7% and done nothing about it, and given huge tax cuts to the very rich it’s hard to escape the conclusion that this government only gives a damn about the elite.

[Bunji: don’t forget the Greymouth IRD job cuts too…]

24 comments on “Key’s priorities laid-bare ”

  1. happynz 1

    Brendon Burns may be under the radar of the media, but the dude is out amongst his constituents. My wife chats with him most Saturdays at the farmer’s market at English Park. The guy does front up and does talk with us people in his electorate. The National list MP, Nicki Wagner – we never hear nor see her except during election time when our letter box gets flooded with her campaign literature.

  2. vto 2

    You may also wish to compare the governments quick and cash-laden response to the businesses hurt by the snowstorm in Southland and the kiwifruit disease in Bay of Plenty, with the near nil response to the businesses hurt by the earthquake in Christchurch.

    I agree with the general sentiment that the government and Bob Parker have been inept. There is a huge construction workforce and resource here and they have been sitting around with their fingers up their arses. Waiting for bureacracy to turn, amongst other bullshit. Speaking with a couple of builders over the weekend and they have so little work on it is ridiculous. There is no activity. And yet there are thousands of homes sitting damaged.

    What a bloody joke.

    A good illustration of the entire situation was revealed last week … Kaiapoi sewerage system is wrecked and the contractors were ready to start a few weeks ago. But they aint started yet. Reason? They need a resource consent to put their portacoms and gear on a local domain. And publicly notified consent at that. So we wait. It is more than a bloody joke. It is a fucking disgrace. Surely this particular matter is exactly what the Minister of Earthquakes should be able to override with his legislation.

    And then of course there is the devastation in the central city, which is a whole story in itself. People would be mistaken to assume that the central city will come back to life. In my opinion there is a collosal risk that the central city may not recover and instead be left empty and decaying. People should not assume that a Napier-like recovery will simply magically happen. The circumstances are very different.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      The core of the problem for local govt is that their building depts and consent process people are grossly under-resourced for the scale of the job they have to do on a good day; far less when an event like this occurs.

      Yes the rules can be frustrating and sometimes needlessly complex, but the example you give around the Kaiapoi sewerage system should have been dealt with by the special legislation that empowered authorities to deal with issues like that expediently.

      Getting frustrated with the rules, especially when they appear to get in the way of the obvious, is only natural. But you really have to ask yourself, what is the alternative to a rule-driven system?

      • vto 2.1.1

        You are right in that the consent people are under-resourced and I am sure working very hard. There is no alternative. However, the problem is as much around payment from insurance companies and the EQC (another area where the government could step in I would have thought). Not all repairs need consents. The vast vast majority do not. Yet getting the work started is like trying to build a castle out of jelly.

        The government could really step in and hasten the builder payment assurance matter. If this was dealt with at the time then the construction industry could have spent the last five months at least fixing up the damage which does not require consent.

        I realise it is easy to criticise but sometimes it is deserved. Personally I have held off and given ‘the system’ the benefit of the doubt. But no longer.

        And on a side note – where does the Christchurch City Council get off on charging $130 per hour for staff to process building and other consents? Ffs, they charge more than the architects and engineers who do the actual work. The Christchurch City Council is rorting the public with its monopolistic charges.

        • Lanthanide

          “And on a side note – where does the Christchurch City Council get off on charging $130 per hour for staff to process building and other consents?”
          Makes up for the low rates. Basically it means those who are wanting building consents are subsidising everyone else who doesn’t, and as these tend to be more well-off people, I don’t have a particular problem with it.

          • vto

            What are you talking about lanthanide – everyone lives in a building. Every building needs a consent. There are more poor people than rich. Your reasoning doesn’t make sense.

            • Lanthanide

              ‘Existing’ buildings don’t need consents, only those being constructed or having alterations done etc.

              Now if we have had a big influx in the number of buildings that need alterations done – remedial work for earthquake damage, then yes, this is affecting a larger proportion of the population than it might. But this same fee will be covered by EQC and/or insurance companies, so poor people aren’t paying out of pocket.

              Meanwhile, rich people who buy up old houses, knock them down and replace it with 3 or 4 tiny units to rent out, have to pay $130/hour to get their consents processed. I don’t have a problem with that.

        • RedLogix

          I have to agree with you comment about councils charging high rates for this work is a very grey area. Doing for free like they once used to is probably unrealistic these days…. but charging top dollar for a service that should be largely funded by rates (after all it is the larger body of rate-payers who benefit from the proper application of the rules) seems quite wrong.

  3. Having moved from Churtown 2 years ago, I couldn’t bear walking around the central city or even driving through it when i visited last November

    It’s like visiting a once healthy relative now in the final stages of cancer. I prefer to remember them how they were, full of life and gay abandon

    …and I really don’t know why Christ City voted that chump Parker back in. What did they expect ?…that he would suddenly give a shit about doing anything but bailing his mates out ? Just exactly what are those properties he bought of Dave Henderson worth now ?

    Don’t get me started on Gerry the hut either ? How is that ignorant tub of lard even remotely qualified to be a minister of anything bar the Right Honourable Minister for Twiddling Thumbs and Talking Shit ?

  4. JS 4

    Had Jim Anderton been elected mayor there would have been a major coordination effort to get things going. That’s what Jim is good at, whatever his other faults. But the people of Christchurch elected a right wing mayor and council for whom the concept of collaboration appears unknown.

  5. ianmac 5

    Most papers have a right leaning bias. But it is great that the Press is airing the concerns of the people. Especially those on the East side who seem to have been ignored.

    • vto 5.1

      ianmac, that right-leaning bias may also explain why the part of Fendalton which was brutally smashed in the quake, resulting in many very large and expensive homes having to be demolished and rebuilt, has not been reported and has instead been hushed up. I guess some people’s property values are more important than others.

      Imagine the headline… “Fendalton A Write Off”

  6. randal 6

    well John Keys is a money man and as far ashe is concerned its the coupon that counts.
    everyone else can go fly a kite.
    ooops. thats what they did and they still got tyhe money!
    how do you get a gig like that?

  7. tsmithfield 7

    Good grief Eddie, sounds to me like you expect the government to wipe everyone’s arses for them as well.

    So far as tax cuts are concerned, most people got them, not just the rich.

    So far as the SFC is concerned, Labour initiated the guarantee scheme. I know we can debate whether or not the scheme should have been extended for SFC. However, the fact remains that Labour also willingly put taxpayers into the position where they could potentially have to subsidise fat cats.

    So far as the clean up of Christchurch is concerned one word is enough to dismiss your argument: Haiti.

    It is not true that the government has done insufficient for families following the earthquake. There have been initiatives such as the wage subsidy scheme for instance.

    So far as the city is concerned, clean up is going fine. Services are on in almost every area. No one has been forced to live on the street as a result of the earthquake as far as I know, and those still living in damaged houses are generally in livable accommodation, even if the houses are not repairable. It must be remembered that the land is still moving so it is not a good idea to get too far down the rebuilding track while there is still the risk of damaging aftershocks.

    • Pascal's bookie 7.1

      “Vote National, Better then Haiti.”

      An argument so powerful, etc.

    • Craig Glen Eden 7.2

      “It must be remembered the land is still moving” so………..what ? Wait till the shaky Isles stop shaking?

      “It is not true that the government has done insufficient for families following the earthquake”

      I think we should let the families that have been affected decide as to what is sufficient or insufficient with regards to the Governments response. Who knows they might even vote NZ First as a protest despite what you and smile and wave think.

    • Irascible 7.3

      If you are saying that the NZ govt, under Key, is as inefficient and as corrupt as that governing Haiti I can endorse your argument TS as the Key led govt has been proven to be ineffective and corrupt on many levels.
      If you’re arguing that our infra structure is as poor as that in Haiti and that is the reason why nothing is happening in Christchurch then your argument is merely shallow, idiotic reasoning of the lowest level.

  8. This article by John McCrone asks interesting questions about the post-quake efforts. Where are the leaders?’ is the main question. They were all over the quake itself and now are hardly involved.

    Read the article: The council is now approaching the recovery in a “business as usual” mode. Everyone’s frustrated.

    • tsmithfield 8.1

      The first phase was the emergency phase. That has largely been resolved. Services have been put back on in most instances, people have been moved out of unsuitable accomodation, or are living in liveable accommodation, even though it might require rebuilding in the long term. Dangerous buildings have been destroyed or fenced off. Naturally, there was considerable activity resolving the urgent issues that were plentiful and obvious at that time.

      The current phase is involved in assessing and quantifying the damage, and planning the rebuild. As mentioned above, there are still aftershocks. The boxing day ones actually caused significant further damage. So, there is no problem in taking the time needed to do this part of the process properly.

      Soon we should be starting the actual rebuild. This is when people will start to see more rapid progress.

      This has been a reasonably substantial natural disaster that will take some time to resolve. The government can’t simply magic the problem away. Time spent in the second stage will reap rewards in good quality outcomes in the third.

  9. Exactly…… when there was a photo op, they were all over it. So where the hell are they now?

  10. TSmithfield – you say “So far as tax cuts are concerned, most people got them, not just the rich”.

    Well really. , oh yeah most people got “A taxcut”…but as you very well know most got peanuts and the minority – ie the top 5 -10% got bucketloads.

    It’s a bit like 10 kids sharing out $100 between them. If 4 got nothing , 5 got $10 each and one got $50? Acccording to your logic “most (ie more than half) got something…the question is..would it be seen as fair?

    Are you oblivious to the reality that society has a whole bunch of people doing low/medium income jobs. The reality is that those people can never all just ‘work harder’ and get to a $100K+ salary. Society needs people like bus drivers, retail workers, bank tellers, cafe staff – you know all those people who do the important jobs in society. Those people cannot all achieve $100K+ salaries in their industry or through a career trajectory across 40-50 years.

    A decent society is one which looks after all isn’t it.

  11. tc 11

    This is a bit harsh, the Nat’s are taking a well deserved break after working themselves to the bone on stopping kiwis moving to oz, keeping unemployment down, improving standards of living and getting a fairer more equitable NZ.

    Let’s not forget F&S/EFA/S59 are all hunky dory now with a lick of paint by removing those unwanted nanny state provisions for some shiny new more libetarian ones.

    9 years in opposition has left them somewhat out of condition on the pace of activity required to be effective but Czar Gerry has shown with his Power reforms he’s got what it takes to be a nat minister cut from classic blue cloth……all hail the king, bring it on Gerry and lay the doubters to rest.

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