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