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Message from Christchurch: Send Help Now

Written By: - Date published: 8:57 am, August 5th, 2014 - 36 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, christchurch earthquake, community democracy, democracy under attack, Environment, Gerry Brownlee - Tags: , ,

christchurch city

As the government and the media start their crusade to sell off the council’s assets, the Press has also found time to champion one of the Right’s other pet causes: council amalgamation. One council could well be the answer – but it depends what the question was. Maybe it was “how can we give the people of Canterbury even less say in the decisions that effect their daily lives?” While this was just a short opinion piece from the Press council reporter Lois Cairns, it managed to contain an heroic number of omissions.

First up, what she is suggesting is a merger of the city council (CCC) with the regional council (ECan). This makes it seem like these are the only two bodies in play. ECan is the territorial authority for all of Canterbury – from Timaru to Kaikoura. There are TEN councils in the area covered by ECan, and so merging two of them would create a multitude of issues for the other 9 councils. Surely the Press knows this, so one wonders what might have led them to omission.

Secondly, the comparison to the Auckland Supercity is a fatuous one. The key reason for bringing the supercity together was that Auckland consisted of a number of city councils. While there were also rural and semi-rural ones, and the Auckland regional council, this was about making a city work together as a city. The CCC and ECan have two, almost exclusive, spheres of influence at the moment – rebuilding a city, and expediting water extraction for dairy farming, Why on earth would anyone want to join these two together?*

Thirdly, when comparing Christchurch to the supercity, Cairns has completely overlooked the twin elephants in the room: Selwyn and Waimakariri. If you were going to create one council (and, if you haven’t picked this up already, we most definitely shouldn’t be) then you would start by bringing the two councils that are making bank out of the CCC being severely compromised by the quakes. Selwyn and Waimakariri are opening up huge amounts of land – fabulously fertile farmland – for cookie-cutter subdivisions on the outskirts of Christchurch. They get the rates from these sections, but the people who live there benefit from their proximity to a city to which they don’t contribute rates to.

But of all the crap in this opinion piece, this takes the cake:

Opponents to a unitary authority have cited concerns about the loss of democracy. That argument holds little sway as ECan has been democracy-free since the Government stepped in and appointed commissioners in 2010. The Government has shown little appetite for changing that situation, so if we went down the track of a unitary authority we wouldn’t be losing democracy, we would be regaining it.

So. The government took away our vote, denying us a right that is protected under a UN charter. They then used the tragedy of the earthquakes so they could postpone our rights again – and all so they could hand as much water over to dairy farmers are possible. But don’t worry – this argument has little sway with Lois. Phew. There was me thinking it was the role of the fourth estate to try and speak truth to power. Nope. Instead of being outraged by the removal of our rights, Cairns manages to spin her little proposal as one that gives us more of a vote, not less. In her mind, 1 vote is greater than 2.

This opinion reads like one that came straight from the top floor of the Beehive. No one in Christchurch is asking for this. But on top of the fight we have to save our council assets – which the council are being pressured to sell, so they can build millstones for their own neck like stadiums and convention centres – we’re fighting EQC and insurance. We’re battling against rents going up at crazy rates. We’re struggling around on pot-holed, clogged roads. We’ve got whole suburbs going under water which the government wants us to believe has nothing to do with the quakes. And all the while, extensive, extractive dairy farming is turning our great rivers into open sewers.

We’re fighting on every front, and we’re tired of it. We’ve gone on like this for the best part of four years, living in a state of semi-permanent stress. We need your help. If you’re swinging about who to vote for, have a look down here and see what it means to us. We don’t have a say in what happens to our environment. We have say in our council, but our council doesn’t have much of a say in how our city is run any more. Power has been concentrated into the figure of one man – a man who has in recent weeks shown that he thinks he is above the rule of law. You might think your one vote doesn’t make much of a difference – but it is everything to us here. Another three years of National and Brownlee, and we might not have a vote at a local level at all. Under a Labour led-government, we’d have new elections for ECan, and we’d be passing power back from CERA to the council. It looks like it is the only thing that can stop the relentless march towards turning this city and this region into a wholly owned business subsidiary of the government.

If you think you can help with my campaign, or want to know more, you can sign up here

  • except maybe if you were the government, and you wanted to combine the only two things that were driving economic growth into one beast with complete Beehive control, no environmental restrictions and no means by which to democratically express their dissent. Putting all our eggs in the one basket, then placing the basket in front of a bulldozer for which only Gerry has the key


36 comments on “Message from Christchurch: Send Help Now”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    I hope this gets as wide a readership as possible.

    • Tom Gould 1.1

      Assured if you could get the small army of taxpayer funded spin doctors at CERA and CCDU and other places to tell the truth about the recovery and the insurers for once? It’s hard to blame the media when they are confronted with a daily deluge of orchestrated ‘good news’ about all the wonderful ‘progress’ being made, and constant bullying from Gerry and his cronies. I hope the good folks of Canterbury can see through it all.

  2. Ann 2

    The rest of New Zealand need to read this story !

  3. vto 3

    “… living in a state of semi-permanent stress …”

    This is most definitely the case. The things just keep popping up and making the head explode. Rebuilds, repairs done badly, no repairs, bumpy roads, road cones in crazy places, cbd like a bomb site… on it goes as everyone knows…

    good thing is the cbd looks like being about to flower soon and that is exciting. Methinks it will be quite something, eventually.

    bad thing is the children who have suffered. Have mentioned a few times how if you are an 8 year old then half of your life has been living with earthquakes and blown apart city and homes. That is significant and real. A quake a couple nights ago set one of our multiple off again – easy to tears.

    Mind you – at least we aint at war. Imagine that..

  4. fambo 4

    I hope Christchurch residents stop voting for National but I reckon a sizeable lot of them will anyway, no matter if it is their school that closes or their house that sinks under the water. They seem to believe that National is the one true government and like going to see the King, their only means of bringing favourable change is to beseech John Key, Gerry Brownlee and whoever else belongs to the Court. They are living in a pre-democratic state of existence in their minds.

  5. tricledrown 5

    The best help New Zealand can give Christchurch is to get rid of bully Brownlee and cronies like Jenny Shipley who is in the taxpayers trough to the tune of $450,000 for a few meetings a year.
    While Brownlee has wasted $100 of millions on Dodgey repairs that will have to be done all over again.
    Now he’s bullied the ChCh city council into selling off income earning assets .

  6. Pete 6

    Hi, while I am a commentator from the right, this call goes out to all sides of the political divide. It is clear that there is an orchestrated plan by left supporters to systematically destroy National election signs in the Port Hills and Lyttelton Harbour areas (and others). While this may seem like a useful activity, in reality is simply perpetuates the views by many that the left are an angry mob willing to resort to criminal activity to support their position. Would Labour and The Greens like it if national supporters defaced their election signs? What message does this mindless vandalism send to our community and the youth voters who will lead our nations future? Perhaps if both sides were willing to condemn this activity we would all be the better for it, and fairness would prevail on the campaign trail?

    • minarch 6.1

      Enough of your obvious concern-trolling Pete

      Those signs are being vandalized up and down the country, In my area they have had to put all the National signs on private property rather than the road side as they only last a couple a nights when the public can access them freely

      nothing to do with any “orchestrated plan by left supporters” , just resentment from the general community toward the incumbent parliament.

      • Tracey 6.1.1

        No problem with a prime minister caught in hundreds of lies since 2008 though…

      • Pete 6.1.2

        If my intent was to troll you’d know about it! Wake up, it’s criminal activity, and you’d cry like only the left can if it happened to your own signs. I’m sure you’ll be condoning the continued attacks, just want to confirm that’s the position of the left.

    • Molly 6.2

      Another spin on the “… if yer no wi’ me, yer agin’ me..”.

      “It is clear that there is an orchestrated plan by left supporters to systematically destroy National election signs…

      Show the proof if you have it. If not, have you just considered that those who are doing the destruction are just doing it?

      No orchestration is needed when graffiti happens – and it doesn’t indicate an organised collective of tidily painted walls.

      It is the nature of elections that public hoardings are vulnerable to defacing and attack. From a personal point of view it serves no political purpose, and I would not do it.

      That’s it.

    • karol 6.3

      So you consider some damaged billboards are more important than the topic of this post – the lives of people in Christchurch destroyed by the earthquake, followed by the Nats destruction of democracy, and poor help to the people devastated by the quakes?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.4

      Pete, you don’t have to confess to being right-wing: it’s obvious from your feeble grasp on logic and reason.

  7. ianmac 7

    One solution is to get rid of this Government and regain democratic ECan. Without Brownlie maybe better priorities would emerge. Less the stadium and no huge Conference Centres at least until after the essential rebuilds have happened.

    What happens to dear Christchurch is a blueprint for a city near you.

  8. tricledrown 8

    Dalziel is just protecting her chances of winning the next Mayoral Race

  9. Bill 9

    Unfortunately, and very disquietingly, that loss of democracy with its granting of power to Brownlie received cross party support. Just saying.

  10. johnm 10

    This government bailed out SC for a billion dollars – private speculators. If I were government I’d gift CHCH a billion dollars and enable them to hold their assets. Why so mean to NZ’s second city? The rest of NZ has a duty to help. Neolibralism and privatised greed will kill us as has happened to the shell society the U$.

    • Chooky 10.1

      +100…a caring society would bail Christchurch out of all earthquake debt and restore all the old buildings …especially the Cathedral

      ..we dont need John Key NACT’s motorways

    • vto 10.2


      Christchurch should say fuck off and we aint paying no more until we can afford it.

      That is the conservative position after all.

      If the rest of you want more then you pay for it

    • john 10.3

      The government insured the finance sector because many companies were falling over and thousands of small investors were losing their life savings. Companies were failing, not because all the companies were bad, but simply because everybody was pulling their money out.

      Those in the scheme paid the government around $750m in premiums, and the govt recovered nearly $1b from SCF.

      So the scheme was highly successful as stopping good companies falling over, and even with the massive losses from SCF and a couple of other companies, the whole scheme will take in virtually the same amount as it paid out.

      • Colonial Viper 10.3.1

        The government should not have paid out any interest at all, and especially not to the get-rich-quick types who heard that a bailout was underway.

        It would also have been appropriate to cut in half each dollar of payments to depositors over say the $200K mark, in order to safeguard ordinary Mum and Dad investor savings, but also tax payers’ interests.

        • john

          That would have failed badly right from the start.

          Why would people keep their money in a company if they were only guaranteed to get half of it back?

          • Colonial Viper

            In the scheme as I proposed it, someone with $500,000 invested in a dead finance company would have got $350,000 back. That’s a pretty good bailout. Better than waiting for 5 years of court action to get 11 cents on the dollar eh?

            So the only people the scheme would have failed would have been very wealthy people with very large sums foolishly invested in risky, over leveraged, under capitalised institutions that they didn’t do appropriate due diligence on.

            And of course in future they wouldn’t re-invest in such risky institutions; they would keep their excess funds in proper banks that are regulated by full Reserve Bank oversight.

            • john

              It would have failed badly.

              Because those with large sums would have pulled their money out.

              So dozens more companies would have failed ANYWAY, even with the scheme.

              But the taxpayer would have had to them fund billions of dollars more in payouts to all the smaller investors (who made up a big part of the billions lost in the 60 or so companies who failed BEFORE the scheme).

              • Colonial Viper

                How can those with large sums “pull their money out” when a statutory freeze on all large transactions is activated?

                What makes you think that there was any liquidity in any of these shonky institutions to even support 5% of withdrawals?

                An orderly unwinding of institutions too shaky to last is an easy and well documented process to institute.

                • john

                  So you would have legally forced people to keep all their money in a company that was likely to go bust – with due respect, that’s totally nuts.

                  The problem was a quarter of all deposits were going into finance companies, and when they started to have problems that dropped suddenly to just 1% of deposits by mid 2006.

                  So by the time the Labour Party designed the deposit guarantee scheme in late 2008, finance companies had been starved of new funds for over two years, but all the while people had been taking their money out – a 5,10, or even 20% liquidity was never going to cope with that.

                  Which is why 60 finance companies went under, and the only way to stop the dominoes was a guarantee scheme.

                  And it worked very well. Only around three more companies failed, and the money taken in premiums and recovered from the failed companies was virtually the same as that paid out.

          • vto

            john it is clear you are from the nether regions of our fair lands which benefited from the fraudulent underwriting of South Canterbury Finance. Your view is distorted. Especially in light of your uninhibited glassy-eyed view of Bill English.

            Have you sucked his cock?

            • McFlock

              nah – he’s previously claimed to live in auckland. Don’t blame us for him 🙂

            • john

              If you get frustrated with your own inability to put forward an intelligent argument you could always give up trying to be intelligent and just resort to abuse.

      • vto 10.3.2

        you are a fucking lunatic

        please install an insurance scheme which underwrites my business by the taxpayers, you useless communist prick

        • john

          No – a lunatic would let the whole financial sector melt down and bankrupt thousands of ordinary Kiwis simply because people were full of panic, when a scheme that cost virtually nothing in the long run could stop it.

          And the government does already underwrite businesses – we pay ACC so the govt covers our workers if they get injured, we pay EQC in case our business in damaged in an earthquake, and we pay a fire levy so there is a fire service to protect our businesses.

          Businesses also pay tax, despite many getting virtually nothing from the government for that tax.

          • Colonial Viper

            Sorry John, don’t try and hold the economy hostage with the “financial melt down” card.

            Capitalism is based on business failures and buyer beware. Small investors should be protected but large investors should know better.

            We’ve seen time and time again that reckless behaviour increases when the private sector thinks that it is backstopped without limit by the tax payers pocket.

            All I’m doing is proposing some sensible limits.

            Businesses also pay tax, despite many getting virtually nothing from the government for that tax.

            They can leave the country if they don’t want to operate here. Other people who understand opportunities better will quickly fill the gap.

            • john

              No – it’s not sensible in the slightest.

              The whole point of the scheme was to stop companies falling over because of people pulling money out.

              If you only fully guarantee the small investors, but the bigger ones stand to lose half their money, then of course they will pull their money out – and the company would fall over, so the scheme would fail.

              And then the taxpayer would be left to pay our billions to all the small investors who left their money in.

              That’s why unless the scheme guarantees ALL money, in a company, it would be worse than pointless as it would certainly fail, and cost the taxpayer billions.

  11. Ad 11

    Not enough people care about local government voting for this line of argument to have much force any more.

    Better to concentrate on the practical everyday concerns of people, and how they link pretty well to Labour’s solutions in housing, skills training, and insurance.

  12. OwTim 12

    @ Bill
    ….. raises another issue, and one that most don’t seem too concerned about, or willing to address.
    WHAT (if anything) are political parties of the left going to do to preserve various democratic institutions in future?
    How has it become so easy to
    – destroy public service broadcasting and any sort of legitimate public sphere
    – sell/privatise assets owned by the public – effectively move their value from the hands of the wider electorate into the hands of the few and provide those few with the legalese of property rights that trump a voting public
    – pass legislation that does not conform to BORA, The Treaty, etc (in the abscence of a formal constitution)
    – use urgency to pass legislation at will, and to give equal effect to it as would that which had gone through ‘normal’ process
    – demolish (in this instance corporatise) the public service institutions such that elected representatives can use excuses such as “I cannot interfere in operational matters”, AND/OR various other (now cliched) excuses to do nothing when various government corporate feifdoms fail their public so blatantly and poorly
    – allow the permanence of all the above to have existed for so long
    Surely – given that the left-right pendulum has swung so far right over the past 30 years that the Natzis are referred to with a ‘centre’ prefix, the means of preventing a future repetition should be paramount. I’ve yet to see any ‘left’ slash ‘liberal’ slash ‘progressive’ party address this.
    It’s probably also why I cannot give Labour my party vote until I next see their record – post this election

  13. Ad 13

    About a third of people don’t vote in central government elections, and over two thirds don’t vote in local elections. Democracy is no vote winner.

    You are essentially asking if the decline in the entire public sphere can be reversed. My experience is that it takes pretty charismatic leaders to achieve that. Plus at least a decade of work. Check the strength of National’s membership, because of John Key, and the surge in Labour membership due to a refreshed democratic process and a strong, smart leader in David Cunliffe.

    They need to be in government for three terms, have committed activist Ministers, and a public service who are motivated. That’s a whole bunch of stars to sustain in alignment.

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