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Ohnstrong on Labour’s Chch policy

Written By: - Date published: 9:43 am, September 21st, 2011 - 29 comments
Categories: disaster, labour, Media, Satire - Tags: ,

I want to start this article with an apology. A couple of weeks ago, I attacked Labour for its criticism of National’s performance on the Christchurch rebuild while not having released its own recovery policy. I now realise that my line was illogical for two reasons:

a) it is a fallacy that only someone who has an alternative option can criticise the option that someone else has chosen. Just because I don’t know how to fly a plane, doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to yell at the pilot when he’s diving us into a mountain.

b) Phil Goff had told me that Labour would be releasing a policy on Christchurch closer to the election. Obviously, Labour’s Christchurch policy cannot come into effect before the election. It makes no difference if they release it two months or two days before polling day. Indeed, delaying the announcement was probably wise while Gerry Brownlee was off assessing the reinsurance situation. My call for Labour to go off half-cocked is regrettable.

Now, Labour has released its policy. Naturally, I shall be covering it in depth partly to make amends for the above-mentioned tirade and partly to make amends for not covering any of Labour’s other major policy releases on skills, mining, education, and womens’ rights. It would be pretty fucken hypocritical of me to demand policy and then turn a blind eye to it. It may even cause some to question my professionalism. And I don’t want that.

So, let’s take a look at Labour’s Christchurch policy.

The promise to intervene in the insurance, or more correctly reinsurance, market if the private sector fails to provide cover is commonsense. Private insurers are only interested in their bottom line – they won’t offer cover until the risk of another significant quake is entirely gone. The government’s imperatives are different. It needs to stop a city slowly dying to to those with insurance payouts taking their cash elsewhere. With that need and its lower cost of capital, the government can afford to take on more risk than the reinsurers, and so it should it if they won’t.

John Key’s attack on this aspect of Labour’s policy is just stupid. Especially since his government is already intervening in the insurance market, most notably int he form of a $337 million bailout for AMI.

The second big aspect of Labour’s policy is to buy up some land on the edge of Christchurch, develop at least 1,500 sections, and sell them to red-zoners at cost. Without costing the government a net cent, it will rip the carpet out from under those bastard landbankers who are rubbing their lands and making a killing off others’ misfortune. I would say ‘you have to wonder why the council or Brownlee haven’t done this already’ especially with the superpowers Brownlee has – but you just have to remember who Brownlee and Parker’s mates are. That’s right – developers. The one group who get to win big off Christchurch as the situation stands. Labour’s running good olf-fashioned class war here and the majority will be on their side.

Finally, Labour is offering to payout for improvements to red-zone homes made after the 2007 valuations. Key and Brownlee repeatedly promised that red-zoners wouldn’t be left out of pocket. But they lied. Now, Labour has trumped the Nats by promising to honour those promises. It’s fair and it’s good politics.

Actually, that’s not all of Labour’s Christchurch policy. It’s ten pages long in total. They promise to give geotech info to landowners that Brownlee is withholding, allow real community participation in the rebuild, reform CERA to make it more accountable, reform the EQC so it’s better designed for a future disaster, invest in skills for the rebuilding, protect the capacity of Christchurch educational institutions, fund test cases on insurance payments, establish an Independent Insurance Commissioner and make government departments lead the return to the CBD.

With policy like this, it doesn’t make sense that Labour is so far behind in the polls.

– Jarm Ohnstrong

29 comments on “Ohnstrong on Labour’s Chch policy ”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    Yeah in what electorate is Armstrong standing for National in?

    • Blighty 1.1

      see what the old bastard has done today? No mention of the Christchurch policy. Instead, he uncritically accepts the government’s spin on the surveillance law and lays into Labour for ‘pretending’ to oppose it and threatens them with worse if they vote against it.

    • mik e 1.2

      The business round table

  2. tsmithfield 2

    There are aspects of this policy I quite like. I think that the insurance underwriting probably will happen. Probably a limited insurance guarantee for twelve months on new builds would limit the risk and should be enough , as usually people can simply take up the existing insurance on second-hand houses. The government has indicated they have not ruled out this option if required, so I suspect it will happen soon, probably prior to the election.

    The idea of an insurance Ombudsman is a step in the right direction. I would prefer an independent loss adjuster who can make binding rulings where people dispute the decision from their insurance company.

    The idea of acquiring sections is problematic and unlikely to provide a quick solution. First, there is the time to negotiate land purchases, invariably with many small land owners. Then there is the resource consent process. Then there is the time to develop the land, which may well require extensive work to make it earthquake resistant. Then there is the time required to subdivide the land, and build the roading and infrastructure. So, I think it is very optimistic to assume this process will be through in anything less than five years.

    There is actually plenty of subdivisions underway or planned at the moment. The best solution IMO is to cut through the red tape so these sections can get onto the market as quickly as possible. A large influx of available land should keep the pricing down.

    The biggest issue for any government is that the cost for the Christchurch Earthquake is snowballing and is unpredictable. Labour’s plans simply add to those costs, and make them even more unpredictable. For instance, any underwriting of insurance would need to be carefully thought through because we are still getting aftershocks, and there is certainly the very real possibility that the government will get called on its guarantee.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    EQC is using an Australian company to run a call centre . They seem to be creating jobs in Brisbane with the bonus of ‘start early finish early’ , obviously to suit the 2hr time difference .
    Why couldnt those jobs be created in NZ ? . Maybe Invercargill, etc where the government is slashing public sector jobs

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      EQC is run out of Australia so that any disasters that strike NZ won’t affect their operations.

      It doesn’t really make sense to house your disaster recovery lifeline in the disaster zone, does it?

      • bbfloyd 3.1.1

        he said invercargill, not christchurch…. and why would it be so senseless? is the christchurch city council meeting in brisbane as well? are the people with houses in the red zone actually waiting up in auckland for a sign that something is finally happening in christchurch?

        or have i missed the news reports of an earthquake in dunedin?

        • Lanthanide

          Invercargill, being part of New Zealand, is not immune from disasters that strike New Zealand.

          Australia, not being part of New Zealand, is immune from disasters that strike New Zealand.

          • Blighty

            except for alien death rays.

            Although, I guess EQC doesn’t cover that any more since they dropped the ‘war damage’ part of their name

          • Colonial Viper

            Invercargill, being part of New Zealand, is not immune from disasters that strike New Zealand.

            Australia, not being part of New Zealand, is immune from disasters that strike New Zealand.

            Dude with your kind of logic lets outsource all our critical infrastructure to Australia.

            Remember, now NZ is susceptible to Queensland floods. Did you figure that into your risk/benefit equation?

            This country can’t fucking tie up its own shoelaces without overseas contractors, under a National Government.

      • Carol 3.1.2

        Like Queensland has never been a disaster zone? Will be interesting to see how they cope with Brisbane under water?

      • ChrisH 3.1.3

        It’d have to be a pretty big disaster that took out Auckland and Invercargill at the same time. Surely they could split the office around the country?

        • Lanthanide

          Or you could just run 1 office in Australia with lower overheads than multiple offices in New Zealand.

          • Ianupnorth

            I would guess the rental of commercial property in say Tokaroa would be far less than Brisbane, althought there are probably more Kiwi’s now in Brisbane than Tokaroa.

            • insider

              What if the disaster hit Tokoroa?

              • This is getting pretty silly.

                What if Brisbane was burnt to the ground in a bush fire (global warming and all that)? What if a mad Australian bomber with a grudge against New Zealand decided to take out the disaster recovery centre in Brisbane? What if Indonesia finally decided to invade Australia?? What if an Al Qaeda cell detonated a ‘dirty bomb’ on the Gold Coast???

                If Civil Defence headquarters for New Zealand can – for goodness’ sake – be in Wellington, of all places, why can’t a recovery call centre for the Canterbury earthquakes be run out of Invercargill!? 

                Get a grip everyone.

                I don’t even think the government has used the likelihood of a New Zealand wide disaster as the rationale for outsourcing the recovery operations to Australia – has it? They certainly haven’t been shouting that rationale from the rooftops – for good reason!  

              • mik e

                Quade cooper would probably ask for leave from the wallabies and the wallabies would be a disaster.

          • McFlock

            and if you had say 4 offices, you’d have to run each one at with a third extra slack in the operation, given the chances that at least one of your offices would be severely distrupted by a regional event.

        • Kevyn

          “It’d have to be a pretty big disaster that took out Auckland and Invercargill at the same time.” That’s precisely what an 8.2 quake on the Alpine Fault would acheive. But don’t worry, the odds of that happening within the next 50 years are only 1 in 2 so it’s as likely as not that it won’t happen.
          Mind you with the Benmore-Cook St link down there’ll be no power to the phone system so nobody’s going to be phoning EQC’s call centre anyway no matter where its located.

          ps if you want to know what the residential red zone is really all about tune into The Westpac Hub on CTV at 1:30 this afternoon or 3:30 Saturday afternoon. Seems strange that bank managers know all the info the redzone homeowners have been asking Brownley for and not getting.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.4

        Wrong EQC IS run out of NZ – Wellington to be exact.

        Whats the big deal about putting a call centre in NZ. The backup of files would be maybe Australia
        Are you saying Brisbane hasnt had natural disasters – wrong again.

  4. insider 4

    @ Tsmithfield

    There already is an insurance ombudsman http://www.iombudsman.org.nz


    “Without costing the government a net cent, it will rip the carpet out from under those bastard landbankers who are rubbing their lands and making a killing off others’ misfortune.”

    Well it will cost because of the holding cost of money and the risk that sections don’t sell. But that aside, what evidence of landbanking ripoffs actually exist? Have you checked what has happened to the cost of existing sections withing the greenzones in Chch, because I would expect those to rapidly inflate first before any potential non residential zoned land. The actual figures show that section prices are on a par with the medium term average.

    So exactly what problem is this policy trying to address? It seems to be only the one that exists in your imagination along with the bogeyman in the wardrobe.

    It’s good to see Labour is willing to refund the cost of slate kitchen benchtops, italian kitchen fittings and german designer bathrooms. That’ll go down a treat in Sydenham. Oh and will properties that have deteriorated since 2007 have their compensation discounted? Fair’s fair.

    • bbfloyd 4.1

      your inside information is amazing young insider…. too bad it’s only the info inside your head, rather than any real info….. as usual, you can’t get past the reactionary kneejerk that characterizes all your comments…… are you taking lessons in doublespeak from johnny sparkles voice coach?
      if so, then i suggest you have at least six large whiskeys before you write so that you get the appropriate slur going…. johnny has an eight glass slur perfected… so you have some serious drinking to do if you want to match your hero….

  5. randal 5

    three cheers for blighty. he gets it right calling him an old bastard. Too many of these nasty old shits hanging round thinking they know everything and fulll of venom. Why doesn’t he stand for parliamane t and see how many votes his style of nastiness accrues.

  6. Biff 6

    Jahn- didn’t you realise that your pregnant teen is getting sex education!!!

    for crying out loud- please keep this crap about the destruction of our second biggest city and our economy out of the paper until after the election.

  7. ianmac 7

    Jarm Ohnstrong. That is a very clever piece of satire, yet it could/should have been a worthy column for that old chap Armstrong to have written. I am a dreamer?

  8. ghostwhowalksnz 8

    Once read this description of political columnists.-

    ” They come down from the hills after the battle to bayonet the dying”

  9. Herodotus 9

    “.. it will rip the carpet out from under those bastard landbankers who are rubbing their lands and making a killing off others’ misfortune..”
    Jarn where is this misdirected and from my knowledge unfounded attack arisen from (unless you have examples of this that I am unaware of)? You will find that there is little land that is available for construction, that is zoned and has infrasturcture to support it, in most areas thoughtout NZ spec housing is being sold below cost.
    For me the building supplies companies are the ones you should be concerned about, at best the margins will stay as they are with increased volume, at worst rising costs and heavy volume. And the supplies are prodominately limited to a few large coys.
    Otherwise I can concure with the remaining sentiments especially in regard to Insurance. Cannot wait until Nat privatise the yet to be established govt Insurance coy, to pay for the quake !!!

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