Rebuilding choices reveal govt priorities

Written By: - Date published: 12:32 pm, February 28th, 2011 - 92 comments
Categories: disaster, public services, tax - Tags:

Unless a leader is horribly neglectful in the wake of a disaster, like Bush after Katrina, I don’t think there is any grounds to criticise them for the immediate disaster response, which is largely out of their hands anyway. But the policy response that follows is a legitimate topic for political debate. And I’m worried about Key’s.

The Herald reports this morning that Key is:

  • backing away from a disaster levy
  • talking about increasing EQC levies instead
  • saying that motorway spending elsewhere will continue
  • suggesting the government deficit may still be eliminated by 2014/15
  • and mooting a global money appeal with Letterman and Oprah.

I have to say, that makes my heart sink. Because, I had expected a serious response, and this looks like more of the same from Key.

Increasing the EQC levies seems neither necessary, nor sufficient. The EQC head has said that it has enough money left for two ‘big ones’ and the coffers will be re-filled to their previous level by 2025 anyway. Historically, there have been five earthquakes that have caused major urban destruction in the past 160 years (Wellington 1855, Napier/Hastings 1931, Wellington/Wairarapa 1942, Christchurch 2010, Christchurch 2011).

And the EQC levy can only legally be used to contribute to the EQC funds. Yet the government faces huge uninsured losses. The cost of repairing Christchurch’s infrastructure will be in the billions and will mostly fall on the central government. How will this be funded?

Key now seems to be rejecting a disaster levy on high income earners. These people have done very well out of the Key government. Indeed, they are the only people who are better off. I would have thought that Key would see it is appropriate for him to give up the $23,000+ a year tax cuts he has awarded himself and the other mammoth tax cuts the elite have received to fund the recovery. Apparently not.

Saying that the government will not reconsider motorway investment in Wellington and Auckland seems like pigheadedness more than anything. These were already either uneconomical or marginally economic projects. The oil price spike has only decreased their benefits and raised their costs, and now, I think we can all agree, there are far more pressing calls on the money.

Despite saying he doesn’t want to raise more money for reconstruction or reallocate spending from white elephant motorways, Key is indicating that the deficit could still be eliminated by 2015. That implies big spending cuts elsewhere, justified by the quake but actually an unnecessary and permanent reduction in public services. This looks like the shock doctrine that Whaleoil has been advocating and which, just the other day, I was pretty confident Key would avoid because it is the most crass form of political opportunitism.

I’m not too happy, frankly, with the idea of a global appeal for money. I just don’t think we need to be first in line for the world’s limited aid dollar. The Australian bushfire appeal, apparently, raised $389 million, yet the UN is struggling to raise $50 million to help a million people displaced by flooding in Sri Lanka. It’s a cruel reality that predominately white, first-world will be far more ready to give money to us than to third-world disaster victims. We don’t need overseas money to feed and house our own – other countries do.

And Key’s suggestion of getting Letterman and Oprah involved unsettles me. I have visions of Key flying over (or appearing live by satellite) on these shows – not cracking too many jokes, hopefully, but still too much of the smile and wave style, which he must surely realise is no longer appropriate.

92 comments on “Rebuilding choices reveal govt priorities”

  1. Nate 1

    Unfortunately… I totally agree 🙁

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Key and English are still setting up future fiscal problems to facilitate their neo-liberal asset privatisation agenda.

    Two things may swiftly end the NACT Government this year. 1) A significant increase in the oil price driving a global slowdown (we are half way there, with a 20% price increase in the last few weeks). 2) South Island GDP/tax revenues/employment collapse resulting from the Christchurch earthquake.

    For Key to imply that not much change needs to be reflected in the Government’s 2011 agenda at this stage is a clearly out of touch madness.

  3. Red Rosa 3

    There are already rumours of price gouging on ChCh city rentals and leases.

    Stories exist of 4 year or even 7 year minimum tenancies, 50% rental hikes etc etc. Few businesses are in shape to cope with these.

    There is a good case for a blanket freeze on rentals and leases at pre-quake prices, for maybe six months or until the situation stabilizes.

    There are real parallels here with WW2 England. It hardly needs noting that then, even a largely Conservative Cabinet would have been appalled at such behaviour.

    Apparently there are four Labour MPs with eastern ChCh constituencies. Their silence has been deafening. They need to step up and get to grips with this disaster. Or are they relaxed enough to let Gerry B claim all the credit?

    • jacqui 3.1

      The four Labour MPs you refer to are working their arses off as usual and doing everything they can for their electorates. Their homes and their electorate offices are damaged. They haven’t had phones or internet connections. Get the picture?
      Blame the MSM if you must blame anyone for the deafening silence. The Labour MPs are very much working on the ground. Meanwhile National Ministers are flying in by the dozen to milk the MSM for media opportunities.

      • Steve 3.1.1

        @Red Rosa: You make a good point about letting Gerry claim all the credit, they run the risk of repeating the same mistakes made by Labour and Jim Anderton after September 4th. Jim in particular deliberately stepped out of the public eye for over a week after the first quake, as a sign of respect to victims of the quake and the pressing issues at hand, even though the Local Body Elections were only a few weeks away.

        Bob hogged all the limelight, sticking to the photo-op scenes in front of destroyed CBD buildings with the PM and Gerry, then won the election as a result. It didn’t take long for the public in the suburbs to get angry about the lack of attention they were receiving from the Mayor, who went back to conducting important meetings in private with little consultation (much to the ire of opposition Councillors, Labour MPs and many Community Board members).

        Unless Chch’s Labour MPs really press for some media attention to show what they’re actually up to they’re going to get left out like last time. It’s a fine line to walk between showing that they’re offering genuine concern for the future of Chch by providing alternative views to the Govt’s so called ‘recovery plans’ thus far, and looking like they’re trying to score political points off of such a tragedy. But if they don’t get any media attention soon the sad truth is people will think they’re doing diddly squat. On the bright side I’ve seen photos of Megan Woods (Labour’s Wigram candidate) and Jim Anderton getting out there and organising volunteer groups. I’ve heard Brendon Burns has been out and about as well. It’s just not getting MSM attention…

        Parker and the Nats once again have the advantage of round the clock media coverage, and can grand stand all they like while appearing to be working in the public interest and have already shown signs of doing so. I heard Bill English on Radio Live the other day say they would look at making cuts in ‘non-earthquake related areas’ to help pay for the recovery. Three guesses as to what he meant by that… It’s something that needs to be countered in the very near future.

  4. Zaphod Beeblebrox 4

    EQC hands out $1.5 bill and re-insurance $2.5 bill. So where is the rest going to come from? And what about the loss of taxation income from the the loss of economic activity we will be seeing. Remember we had negative economic growth even before the second quake.

    The govt accounts are heading into serious deficit as a result of conomic collapse and he still thinks we will be in surplus in as little as 4 years. These guys are seriously deluded.

  5. todd 5

    Despite saying he doesn’t want to raise more money for reconstruction or reallocate spending from white elephant motorways, Key is indicating that the deficit could still be eliminated by 2015.

    Perhaps they don’t plan to rebuild Christchurch at all. I heard a lot of stories about people not getting any help after the initial Christchurch Earthquake. You do realize that it’s a dog eat dog world under a right-wing government; Nationals first indication is that it will be an everyman for themselves scenario for the displaced people of Christchurch and those that are helped, are done so mainly by the poor.

    Has Shonkey donated anything himself yet, or is he waiting until he’s on Oprah?

    I too have misgivings about a global appeal for funds and not just for the valid reason you point out Eddie. Our internal financial structure should allow for us to rebuild Christchurch to a higher spec city than any other in the developed world. Whether this is in the same location is another question. It is just unfortunate that Nation will most likely tax those who are least able to pay. But that’s capitalism for you.

  6. Fisiani 6

    Roll up. Roll up. Bash away at the evil Nats. Berate John Key as the Devil incarnate. Predict the coming tidal wave of one eyed rebuilding.
    That’s the whole sorry point of this blog surely? Throw mud and hope that some sticks?
    Sad. Posters here tried it in the Sept quake and after Pike River.
    Go for it. Parade your infantilised obsessions. They deserve a wide audience.

    • Cnr Joe 6.1

      Jeez Fizz, did you read this post? or are you on automatic (like yr godhead Keyz?).
      This disaster REQUIRES a rethink. And yet you lot don’t – think that is.
      This Prime Minister of Tourism wants another opportunity to boost his U.S profile offa the back of a national disaster and you what? think thats not murky?
      Its you Fizz that is throwing mud, shame.

    • lprent 6.2

      Fis: Why do you bother writing here at all. It isn’t that you ever write anything outside of your usual mindless ranting against others discussing things you clearly don’t understand and your characteristic brown-nosing.

      Jonathon Swift satirically wrote about people like you many centuries ago as Laputians who were so obsessed by the minor self-referential and impractical mathematics of shapes and astrological minutiae that

      Their ideas are perpetually conversant in lines and figures. If they would, for example, praise the beauty of a woman, or any other animal, they describe it by rhombs, circles, parallelograms, ellipses, and other geometrical terms, or by words of art drawn from music, needless here to repeat.

      Their houses are very ill built, the walls bevil, without one right angle in any apartment; and this defect arises from the contempt they bear to practical geometry, which they despise as vulgar and mechanic; those instructions they give being too refined for the intellects of their workmen, which occasions perpetual mistakes. And although they are dexterous enough upon a piece of paper, in the management of the rule, the pencil, and the divider, yet in the common actions and behaviour of life, I have not seen a more clumsy, awkward, and unhandy people, nor so slow and perplexed in their conceptions upon all other subjects, except those of mathematics and music. They are very bad reasoners, and vehemently given to opposition, unless when they happen to be of the right opinion, which is seldom their case. Imagination, fancy, and invention, they are wholly strangers to, nor have any words in their language, by which those ideas can be expressed; the whole compass of their thoughts and mind being shut up within the two forementioned sciences.

      Most of them, and especially those who deal in the astronomical part, have great faith in judicial astrology, although they are ashamed to own it publicly.

      The women of the island have abundance of vivacity: they, contemn their husbands, and are exceedingly fond of strangers, whereof there is always a considerable number from the continent below, attending at court, either upon affairs of the several towns and corporations, or their own particular occasions, but are much despised, because they want the same endowments. Among these the ladies choose their gallants: but the vexation is, that they act with too much ease and security; for the husband is always so rapt in speculation, that the mistress and lover may proceed to the greatest familiarities before his face, if he be but provided with paper and implements, and without his flapper at his side.

      I think that everyone has simply filed you under the F for flapper long ago because F for Fisiani would confer too much individualism on someone who is so reflexive you can predict what they will say before they say it. You are like a minion of an upper class Laputian from the 18th century in that you never appear to think on the opinions of any other, but merely mouth your opinions based on nothing more than some arcane logic. A logic that you don’t even seem to understand yourself.

      You certainly appear not to be able to articulate it so anyone else can find anything of use in it. And no-one can figure out from it what you practically think should be done on any topic. You are uselessly ineffective apart from being a butt for jokes.

      In fact your only intelligible contribution to the debate here really consists of the evident fact that you love placing your nose in John Keys butt crack, which while initially amusing, wore off as a joke some time ago.

      • Lanthanide 6.2.1

        Very apt. And I would’ve previously thought that the Laputians he was describing was simply a class of people he invented as a device in his novel. But Fisiani shows that such people do actually exist.

        • lprent 6.2.1.1

          😈 I was re-reading Gullivers Travels on the iPad yesterday in between protracted sleep sessions (my ribs no longer require Panadol to allow me to get some sleeps. I was getting long sleeps without waking up when the painkillers wore off – Yahoo!).

          A brilliant political satire once you get past the language of the 18th. Fis really did fit the part of a mind-constrained Laputian.

          • Mac1 6.2.1.1.1

            You don’t want to be styled as a Yahoo! as was my fourth form English class by its teacher, who was Burkian by name and nature. I preferred to be Brobdingnagian.

  7. Kevin Welsh 7

    Personally, I think they are laying the groundwork where the Christchurh CBD will become just another bland collection of concrete and mirrorglass and anything with any architectural merit whatsoever will be “too expensive”.

    Enough money will be poured into a rebuild of the cathedral and that is it.

  8. Monty 8

    Yet again you politicise the tradegy of this earthquake. In a couple of weeks you will be complaining that nothing is being done (regardless of the lie that such a comment is) as you probably have already written posts on this.

    Labour are understandably annoyed because one of their election platforms was going to be “National are dragging the chain” and “National are doing nothing”

    John Key and National are understandbly concerned that increased costs will hamper economic growth. I also understand that the major rebuilding programmes will not commnece until the after-shocks have effectively ceased.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.1

      Why show an interest in fostering economic growth now? Surely there are more photo-ops, cars to crush, welfare reports, tax cuts to be had first.

    • Bright Red 8.2

      don’t you think the question: ‘where is the money going to come from for rebuilding Christchurch?’ is a legitimate question for political debate?

      Would you rather everyone just said ‘whatever the PM says is OK by me?’

    • Colonial Viper 8.3

      John Key and National are understandbly concerned that increased costs will hamper economic growth.

      That’s odd. Because after the Sept earthquake all the righties were falling for the broken windows fallacy and saying that rebuilding Christchurch would be a stimulus to the economy, not a cost.

      So buddy, what’s changed?

      • Monty 8.3.1

        I have not been in that camp – while to a certain extent it is true because there will be many billions of dollars flowing in for recontruction, not all buildings will be re-built. Before construction starts there will need to be a demand from a tenant. New better buildings will be built – but with that will come higher rents associated with higher quality spaces. Then much of the city infrastructure such as pipe work is uninsured – so for those reasons I have never felt there would be a net gain. The economic cost is significant. Christchurch as a center for commerce is already severly compromised. It may never recover in our lifetime. Some business will never locate there based on the risk factor which will be front of thought for many businesses.

        Lynn – the major rebuilding programmes I was talking about are to do with buildings such as the hotel (which will takes weeks if not months to demolish unless nature brings it down earlier) Life critical infrastructure will be strung together on a temporary basis but long term planning so that the infrastructure is more permanant and earthquake resistant will take a long time.

        In terms of politicisation – Red Alert has been very careful to ensure they have not been political. But there has been a series of very political posts (one at least which was taken down) as you guys use every opportunity to put the dagger into National without consideration for the realities of dealing with the aftermath of the first earthquake, ;let alone the second.

        What is very clear is that Labour were gearing up to use the first September earthquake as a platform for the election campaign. That has well and truly been shut down with the tragic events of last Tuesday. However it does seem that it will not stop this blog from doing so at every opportunity. There a re regular snide commnets about your perceived lack of action by National as if not planning, or process would be required to rebuild the city.

        There is a comment further down which is patently untrue by Floyd. John Key is the Nation’s Prime Minister and it is only right that he should be (and is) showing true empathy and Leadership during this tradegy (as is Bob Parker) If anything I wonder what the hell Helen Clark is doing there except up-staging Goff and being a rubber necking tourist. She has no place nor anything constructive to contribute to the tradegy. No Matter – this tradegy will be to the benefit of the government simply because NZ will not want a change of government during the initial re-building phase.

        • lprent 8.3.1.1

          the major rebuilding programmes I was talking about are to do with buildings such as the hotel (which will takes weeks if not months to demolish unless nature brings it down earlier)

          Those CBD buildings I have no problem with building later rather than earlier. But they actually need to demolish earlier rather than later because about a third of the CBD buildings have gone past their tolerances. We really don’t need any more CTV style collapses.

          But there has been a series of very political posts (one at least which was taken down)

          I wasn’t aware of any that have been taken down. I can’t see any, and it is bloody hard to stop me seeing one because we keep all of the post edits. Sounds like myth.

          We are a political blog site unaffiliated to any political organisation – it says so right in our about. That means that we look at everything with a political viewpoint – which was why the site was set up in the first place. Like the political commentators such as John Armstrong, Fran O’Sullivan, Matt McCarten, the crew over at Pundit, the political people at Werewolf, kiwipolitico, NRT, Trotter, etc we have been offering forward looking political opinion on the news all the way through the various disasters in the last 6 months – including through this last disaster. I haven’t noticed them stop offering political opinion.

          We’re quite different to some of the other blogs around simply because we offer reasoned opinion in some depth rather than simple visceral reaction that characterizes Whale, No Minister, frequently even Cactus Kate, and many others. You and many others may not like what we say, but you can always argue with us and others in the comments – as has been happening. That doesn’t seem to happen much on those sites.

          Red Alert has a quite different set of imperatives. They are politically sensitive politicians wanting to get elected. For that matter I’d class David at Kiwiblog in the politically sensitive category as well bearing in mind his rather well known connections.

          There a re regular snide commnets about your perceived lack of action by National as if not planning, or process would be required to rebuild the city.

          In case you hadn’t noticed the absence of many of our regular authors who were or went down-country this time around to help out or have family being refugees on the sofa, many of us have family and friends in Christchurch. Hell I was down in ChCh for the Dec 26th aftershocks and hearing how Lyn’s family and our friends in ChCh were feeling wasn’t particularly printable. In part we’re passing on how they felt about what was happening. Rather than build some kind of conspiracy, did it ever cross your mind that many of our authors including me, feel that the process after the September 4th earthquake as been a bit of a clusterfuck. Based on that with the same people and structure in place we’re anticipating the same again – because I can tell you that is what many down there are expecting.

          What is very clear is that Labour were gearing up to use the first September earthquake as a platform for the election campaign.

          What does that have to do with us?

          There is a comment further down which is patently untrue by Floyd.

          So refute it or ask for supporting links – it isn’t our problem. We don’t care too much about peoples opinions. As moderators we only really care about behavior, that there is engagement in comments, and that people don’t attack our authors directly (argue against their opinions by all means).

        • lprent 8.3.1.2

          Btw: I just trashed d4j using Monty as a user name. Probably pay to keep an eye out for it elsewhere

    • lprent 8.4

      I also understand that the major rebuilding programmes will not commnece until the after-shocks have effectively ceased.

      That is a rather silly idea since
      1. The aftershocks are likely to continue for most of this year at a steadily diminishing level
      2. The major structural repair bill will be in infrastructure such as water, sewerage, and transport systems
      3. Christchurch will be largely uninhabitable without those systems patched, repaired or replaced.
      4. It is highly likely that subsequent aftershocks will be less than 6 and any larger ones will be further away from the area of now reduced strain after the Dec 26th and Feb 22nd earthquakes.

      What your program will do is to effectively make a significant proportion of the population of Christchurch to become refugees. It will condemn Christchurch as a center for commerce.

      Since there is no other place in NZ that has any less of a probability of devastating earthquakes than Christchurch, your idea would say that in the event of an earthquake we should just abandon the location. If you think that then I’d suggest you should leave the country because you’re clearly not up to the standard to live here.

      Oh and what is hilarious about your comment is that you complain about politicization of the quake and its consequences, then immediately launch into politicization of the same. Don’t you ever reflect on what you’re actually saying?

      In reality (as Eddie points out), the rebuilding of any area after a disaster is always a political exercise because it is a exercise in determining the allocation of available resources and the freeing up of resources to become available. It is quite evident from even a cursory read around, that is how the people of Christchurch feel about it, and for that matter from their actions how the members of the government feel about it.

      • Rosy 8.4.1

        “Since there is no other place in NZ that has any less of a probability of devastating earthquakes than Christchurch”

        Hamilton? …. tongue firmly in cheek 😉

        • lprent 8.4.1.1

          Ummm nope it is too close to the volcanic plateau, not to mention that bloody great fault line between it and tauranga, the other set of faultlines heading over towards raglan.

          Besides have you ever seen the ignimbrite deposits that came down the Waikato river basin at the last Taupo eruption. Pretty damn hot they were even at hamilton. Not to mention Mt Perongia. ?sp

          Studying any earth sciences about nz makes you a pessimist

          • Rosy 8.4.1.1.1

            “Studying any earth sciences about nz makes you a pessimist” – yep. It’s relative risk never low risk to build anywhere in NZ. It’s all pretty high for one reason or another.

            Ignimbrite deposits, see and understand these and you know how irrelevant we are in the big scheme of things – earth sciences 202?? field trip – I’ve got the tick.

            • lprent 8.4.1.1.1.1

              Those ones by the dams on Waikato. Depositation in a 10 meters thickly layer a hundred or so km from the source in a solid weld with little structure apart from a minimal columnar structure. Nothing survived that.

          • Armchair Critic 8.4.1.1.2

            I recall a study ten or more years ago that showed that the biggest risk (probability x consequence) to Hamilton is that one of the dams on the Waikato fails rapidly (bursts, for want of a better word) and causes the downstream dams to fail too.

            • lprent 8.4.1.1.2.1

              Umm… I will have to mull that over, but my first instinct would be that it is unlikely. There is too much bed friction over the distance between dams and the amount of water behind those dams isn’t that large (apart from the first one of course)

              • Armchair Critic

                Yeah, there has always been concern about the first one and a deliberate act to encourage it to drain. Fingers crossed it never happens. Re-routing the road into town so no traffic could go over the control gates would significantly reduce the risk, by reducing access, and it’s easier now SH1 has been diverted. Even taking down the sign saying “control gates” might help.
                I would like to see more evidence of regional government planning for these sort of things.

                • lprent

                  Ah yes. That would be enough to shift from turbulent flow to laminar as the bed filled with a sustained flow. That would drop the travel time down considerably and increase the energy

                  Mostly being built in the 40’s (?) when the engineering was somewhat less risk averse, I suspect you are right – the dams downstream wouldn’t cope.

    • bbfloyd 8.5

      yet again monty displays nothing more than a talent for hypocrisy. it is actually(and anyone who can stand to watch tvnz’s coverage for more than 15 ninutes can attast to the blatant politicking going on by the govt during this emergency situation.

      if you don’t want to acknowledge that, then good luck living in that special world you’ve constructed . i should thank you on behalf of all behavioral psychologists for giving them so much help in determining cause and effect outcomes regarding social deprivation, and it’s long term damage.

      • mcflock 8.5.1

        Sssshh BBF – we mustn’t look at anything other than grief porn on the MSM. If we actually looked at the substance of recovery and rebuilding efforts, we might think about them, and that would be the thought-crime of politicising a tragedy.

        If the govt says that they have to cut welfare to pay for the costs of the earthquake, we can’t see if it’s BS because that would be politicising a tragedy.

        We absolutely must not watch what any of the elected representitives do from now on, because that would be politicising a tragedy.

        Nope, the closest we are allowed to get at issues around the earthquake (beyond tears and weddings) is to consult expert advice like Ken Ring and Doug Copp emails.

    • Fisiani 8.6

      Not a word of congratulations here for the rapid generous all encompassing Government handouts for Christchurch workers. Go on , Break the habit of a lifetime . A round of well earned applause.

      • Colonial Viper 8.6.1

        What was it? $400-$500 p.w. for a few weeks? Its a decent interim measure.

        Shit I hope the banks have put missed mortgage repayment forgiveness policies in place. People are not going to be able to make their payments on that.

      • lprent 8.6.2

        Ah the brown-nosing flapper. I will let you into a secret. The authors here work for a living, and then go home to their families. If they are like me, they are in the middle of dinner (in my case waiting for Lyn to get back from the gym so I can kick cooking dinner off – she’s late).

        Plus we like to read the proposal rather than to simply regurgitate the PR. It helps to find the interesting holes. I wouldn’t expect much before the morning.

        Of course you could always useful rather than terminally useless and link to something? No one has bothered to yet. I guess they have a less credulous viewpoint than your brown nose drooling.

        Lyn arrived home… 30 minutes late…

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.6.3

        I’m with you on this on Fis- this is a good start.

  9. Dilbert 9

    Kevin, why should the rest of the country pay to create and support the region while some Utopian architectural wonderland is constructed in Christchurch?

    The priority surely has to be in rebuilding the infrastructure to enable the local community to survive, function and grow. If it the fastest and most economical method to build safe locations to enable this is to occur is by building “concrete and mirror glass” buildings is to way to do then so be it.

    While rebuilding structures like the cathedral may be “inspiring” to the local community surely they are secondary projects. After all isn’t God everywhere and can worshiped anywhere?

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      The mayor of San Francisco in 1989 who dealt with the aftermath of their earthquake was interviewed on National Radio last week. He said that one of the important things for the rebuilding and recovery effort was to have an important local symbol that could be rebuilt, so that people have a sense of progress and know that something was being done. The cathedral is obviously Christchurch’s symbol for these purposes. He commented that rebuilding efforts that don’t have a symbol to rally around appear to be the more chaotic ones that people are very pessimistic about (he gave an example but I can’t recall it) – you could easily say this about the Sept 4th earthquake for example.

      Physically it’s just a building, and not really a very important one at that. But psychologically it is the symbol of the city. There’s a reason why pictures of it were everywhere on Tuesday and Wednesday, and why people’s eye witness reports of it falling were those eagerly sought and promptly reported on, and why my friend from The Press building posted a picture of it on his facebook page ASAP on Tuesday.

      • Dilbert 9.1.1

        I agree that the Cathedral can act as a symbol for reconstruction but it is a symbol that should be rebuilt by the people of Christchurch not by seeking the funds from the rest of the country to achieve.

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1

          should be rebuilt by the people of Christchurch not by seeking the funds from the rest of the country to achieve.

          Every city and every town for itself, is that the motto of your new political party Dilbert?

          I tell you what, why don’t we have each Island also keep the power it generates and the food it grows to itself? The poor old North Island will be on rolling blackouts and half rations from now on.

          Assanine.

          • Dilbert 9.1.1.1.1

            “Every city and every town for itself”

            I’ve not said that at all Viper. What I have said is that national funds should be used to rebuild the required buildings and infrastructure for Christchurch to be able to function and continue rebuilding itself.

            Pouring $x million dollars into rebuilding a church that was able to attract some tourist visitors because of its age and location I believe is a waste of time when that money could be better used rebuilding a roads, power lines, water systems, business premises. Once these things then rebuild symbols at which time the people of Christchurch should hopefully be able to fund these projects themselves.

        • Lanthanide 9.1.1.2

          What’s the difference between using $10M local money to rebuild the Cathedral and $10M out-of-town money to rebuild the sewer system, and $10M local money to rebuild the sewer system and $10M out-of-town money to rebuild the Cathedral?

          There really is no practical difference at all. Either way both things are re-built and where the money ‘came from’ is just a matter of accountancy.

          So really what you’re saying is that we should spend $10M rebuilding the sewer system and $10M rebuilding the power network, and just ignore the Cathedral completely.

          Also, Christchurch is the 2nd largest city in the country, and the tourism gateway for the South Island.

          • Dilbert 9.1.1.2.1

            “So really what you’re saying is that we should spend $10M rebuilding the sewer system and $10M rebuilding the power network, and just ignore the Cathedral completely.”

            Yes. When there is so much that is needing to be rebuilt then I believe that buildings like these I believe are low priorities. Then hopefully by the time that rebuilding them become priorities Christchurch should be in a position to raise the funds by themselves.

            • Lanthanide 9.1.1.2.1.1

              To which I point you back to my original comment about there needing to be a symbol for the rebuilding process around which the community can focus their attention to. It’s a psychological thing, not an economic one.

              Now rebuilding the Arts Center is another matter – I think that should be more funded from CHCH residents (and therefore only attempted once there is sufficient cost/benefit in doing so).

            • Deadly_NZ 9.1.1.2.1.2

              Yes and for the most logical of reasons.

              it does not matter if you rebuild CHCH where it is or move it down the road, The FIRST things you need to do is solidify the ground. Then build Sewers then run your water / gas / telecommunications All underground. Then you build the buildings on a solid foundation . Then you fix the church.

              • lprent

                One of the problems, as Fran O’Sullivan pointed out on facebook on my link earlier is that none of these infrastructure items are in the EQC. They have to be paid directly because most of them will not be insured. Where is that money coming from?

                • Armchair Critic

                  Having been peripherally involved, I understood that some or all of the local authorities across NZ collectively re-insured all their infrastructure. The aim was to have funds available for situations exactly like this.
                  I can’t recall whether it was planned or active, and how much cover was arranged. It made sense at the time.
                  Maybe it has been a casualty of the moves to privatise water utilities.

                  • lprent

                    That is interesting. I have to say that I have absolutely no idea. And i cannot say i have seen anything on it. It would be logical and hugely expensive for someone in the quite near term one way or another.

                    Just looking at the roading damage in some of the facebook albums is pretty bad. The idea of the pipes, power, and telecoms there as well is even more painful.

                    Ummm set that down for some searching tomorrow.

              • Colonial Viper

                Is Christchurch going to get a massive new high speed internet infrastructure? I mean, it makes sense that this is the time to do it, as everything else is going in. Water and sewerage and stuff is nice but of course there are new utilities to consider in the 21st century 🙂

    • jacqui 9.2

      Concrete, glass, brick and tile are big casualties here in Christchurch, Dilbert, as are most of the regions churches. Rebuilding in wood and lightweight materials would be the best option going forward – maybe CHCH can become a world leader in wood technology (which Canterbury University already excels in) – and we will certainly need to rethink tourism as an industry for the region too.

      BTW, The rest of the country are paying for the $10billion motorways in Auckland, so it wouldn\’t hurt NZ to suck up the cost of rebuilding Christchurch. Up until last week, Bob and Brownlee were talking a repair job, rather than rebuild. Too late for that now, so better to pay for a utopian scheme and get it right and honour our city in the best way we can.

      • Dilbert 9.2.1

        I agree Jacqui re the Glass, Concrete and Brick which is why I said “safe locations”. To me this is the key, and if the best result can be achieved using Glass and concrete then that I believe is the most appropriate course. If it were to be using Platonium I would argue that should be the planned material.

        However over the weekend there have been a growing number of comments generally about how this is an opportunity to that this earthquake is the opportunity to build a perfect city where as the obligation on the nation is to simply rebuild a safe and functional one which can then gain its personality from her residents and their own projects.

        As for Auckland’s motorways I would suggest that you take a good long hard look at the amount of money that has been collected in Auckland over the last 20 years in transport taxes vs the amount of money spent in the region on the transport system and then think about that comment.

        • handle 9.2.1.1

          Jacqui, that $10b is for the whole country not just Auckland. And it should be looked at again with marginal cost-benefit ratios for most of the projects and peak oil making them redundant in no time anyway.

      • lprent 9.2.2

        Most of us up here can’t see any particular point to the Holiday Highway as it is. The SH20 extension (while useful) can probably be put on a back burner for a few years as it hasn’t really started. It isn’t as critical as getting ChCh running again because that in itself is in Aucklands own interests. The Westhaven tunnel is already underway and there is no point in stopping it now, and it is a precursor to the bridge replacement that will have to happen in the next 20 years (and is highly critical)

        Rather than the freaking holiday highway, I’d say that a majority of Aucklanders (apart from the devotedly car obsessed in the car only suburbs) would be more interested in getting a better public transport system operating that we will need as petrol prices keep rising. It has more practical daily utility than a highway of little utility except on public holidays.

        But the sad reality is that over the last 35 years (since Muldoon shutdown the projects in the 70’s) there has been considerable under investment in transport infrastructure in Auckland compared to the transport revenue. The money was spent elsewhere – especially in the SI.

        • Dilbert 9.2.2.1

          Lprent I agree re the SH20 extension, I’m yet to see a compelling case for it when areas like the inner suburbs need far more improvements to ensure that people are able to get around the city and their communities with far greater ease.

          Personally I would like to see improved public transport systems, the elimination of one of the motorway lanes with it being reserved for car pooling, motorcycles and emergency services only and possibly the restriction of SUVs.

          Even better would be government investment nationally designed and built narrow, single seater car to remove the need of people like me having to drive a 4 seater one everyday by myself without the risk of a motor bike. This would potentially allow the current motorway space to be re-laned to allow even better capacity.

          • lprent 9.2.2.1.1

            Going off at a tangent….. But…

            One of the most effective transport investments in Auckland recently has been the bus lane up the north eastern motorway. Cost just under $300 million (a lot less than the multi-billion dollar highway upgrades), is credited with removing 5100 cars off the overworked bridge (and rising fast) and operates buses every 4 minutes during peak time and 10 minutes in off peak.

            Where I work you can see the effect on the bridge traffic. It is moving even at peak now rather than the traditional morning and evening jam that we’ve had for the last decade. The only thing it fails on is that the carparks at the stations weren’t even in the right order of demand. I used it extensively in 2009 and 2010 heading to work from the city to Takapuna because it was as fast as using a car (after I got the bus into town – which was the bottleneck) and less fraught with parking and driving issues (I have been thumped twice on the bridge).

            I gather from other people that the trains out south are having the same kind of increase in patronage with the same station parking issues, but with more hassle due to the almost continuous upgrading while in use. Same with the western lines.

            Even the dominion road busways are ramping up their usage despite their current constraints.

            Each of these drops the demands on roadspace. That is what we need more of here.

            The problem with carpooling is the typical one of enforcement. How do you stop freeloaders misusing the lanes? My only experience with them was the multi-passenger lanes on Onewa road that require considerable enforcement to keep clear. To enforce those, they have to stop the vehicles to issue tickets. How does that happen on the motorway without jamming it up? Same exists with the buslanes that are not enclosed.

            The same thing applies to using the bus lanes with multi-passenger restrictions. Not to mention the dangers. It is enough of an issue already with the buses and the cyclists. Mind you, I tend to feel that cycling or even using a motor cycle in Auckland is one of the most hazardous activities I know of. I’ve been hit on a motor cycle a few times when I was younger, and I’ve had friends that have suffered rather deadly crashes on both.

            Anyway getting back to the original topic. I and many Aucklanders (if not most) would prefer to can most of the hugely expensive motorway building in favour of getting better and faster public transport running. It is cheaper, faster to get operational, and more effective. The money that have been allocated by the government to try and buy the votes of a north auckland electorates would be better spent in rebuilding Christchurch (for the eventual benefit of Auckland anyway)

            Of course one of the biggest impediments to that has been the bickering between councils, which is now history (despite the political screwing around of Rodney Hide). We only have empire building Steven Joyce and the short-sighted Infratil acting as impediments.

            The incomparable http://transportblog.co.nz/ is the place to look at for aucklands transport issues.

    • Colonial Viper 9.3

      why should the rest of the country pay to create and support the region while some Utopian architectural wonderland is constructed in Christchurch?

      Talking about setting expectations low lolz Don’t worry your little head too much, it’s doubtful that we’re going to get Michael Jackson’s home architect in to rebuild Christchurch.

      • Dilbert 9.3.1

        Viper don’t be a patronising prick. Its comments and attitudes like yours that re-enforce all the negative stereo types that rwnj’s try to promote about this site.

        • Colonial Viper 9.3.1.1

          Hey fucktard, calling me patronising?

          You who is advocating rebuilding Christchurch on the cheap and then suggesting that Christchurch not weigh down the rest of the country’s economy by making Cantabrians do it all themselves?

          Frak you. And for your future reference, I don’t give a damn what RWNJ’s think.

          • Dilbert 9.3.1.1.1

            Viper when you make patronising comments like “Don’t worry your little head too much” you shouldn’t be surprised when you get called patronising.

            Personally it seems you are of the belief that if other commentators here voice an opinion or belief that you disagree with you then you feel you have the right to abuse them anyway you like. I can’t be bothered trying to participate in an environment that condones or accepts that.

            Lprent (as you seem to be following this thread). Thanks to you and your other contributers, I may not always agree with your relevant positions but have always enjoyed the debate.

            • Colonial Viper 9.3.1.1.1.1

              But you claiming that the people of Christchurch are now going to want a “Utopian architectural wonderland” is not patronising?

              you feel you have the right to abuse them anyway you like. I can’t be bothered trying to participate in an environment that condones or accepts that.

              Oh, so sorry for your hurt feelings. Hey weren’t you the same person claiming that Cantabrians should rebuild by themselves and not become a burden bludging off the rest of the country?

              Your suggested abandonment of Cantabrians is not abuse of the people of Christchurch, in your books heh?

              So yeah my sensitive one, as bb kindly suggested = pure hypocrisy.

            • lprent 9.3.1.1.1.2

              Viper when you make patronising comments..

              Mostly just a clash of styles and/or comment fatigue. It is a common problem.

              I may not always agree with your relevant positions but have always enjoyed the debate.

              Which you will get from me as well when it has been a hard day… Wait until felix gets one of those days. It is fun for everyone apart from the recipient.

              Don’t get worried about it. Just choose who you want to engage with. You don’t have respond to everything (it is too much effort) – this is a agree to disagree forum.

              Of course the exception is when you get a clear warning from a moderator (especially IrishBill) which are very hard to miss…. It always pays to take notice of them.

        • bbfloyd 9.3.1.2

          the second lesson today is on “hypocrisy”. the main symptoms are a marked lack of cognitive ability, coupled with an unrealistic world view.

          • bbfloyd 9.3.1.2.1

            that was for you dilly old bean… btw, what is it i said that you think”patently untrue” regarding johnny fartypants? . thanks for giving me the opportunity to say that, i appreciate it.

  10. I would have thought that Key would see it is appropriate for him to give up the $23,000+ a year tax cuts he has awarded himself …

    Has Shonkey donated anything himself yet, or is he waiting until he’s on Oprah?

    Haven’t y’all heard ?

    He doesn’t draw a salary as it all goes to charity. The guy’s a fucking saint. He does everything for the love !!!

    • bbfloyd 10.1

      does he still think liz hurley fancies him?

    • spam 10.2

      Haven’t y’all heard ?

      He doesn’t draw a salary as it all goes to charity. The guy’s a fucking saint. He does everything for the love !!!

      Only on the standard would we see John Key being denigrated for giving to charity.

      Stay classy.

      • lprent 10.2.1

        I think polly’s point is that there is no evidence that he gives a dollar to charity. There is just a vague statement in the past that he would with absolutely no substantiation that he ever has. I haven’t exactly been aware of any charitable organizations giving their thanks in public. Have you?

        To be precise, I think it is one of those myths beloved of the suckers on the right who aren’t interested in what actually happens, but are more interested in how it sounds. Yourself for instance.

        But based on your previous commenting history here, I’d hardly think that you’re going to engage as you appear to just be a hit’n’run astroturf troll of no particular value.

        • spam 10.2.1.1

          So what is he supposed to do? Go to the media and get a nice photo shoot every time he gives to charity? Take this comment:

          Denigrated for making it a PR point: big difference. Plus what does he actually give anyway? He claimed in the public domain that he did, so where is the proof?

          Here we have the “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” argument. Want proof, yet complain that its a PR stunt. So there you have it. You think its a myth? Then bust it open. At the moment, its denigrating someone based on a completely baseless assertion.

          But based on your previous commenting history here, I’d hardly think that you’re going to engage as you appear to just be a hit’n’run astroturf troll of no particular value.

          Troll? No. Does anyone who disagrees with things posted here automatically get labelled that? Do you (and I understand you are one of the ‘owners’ or principal contributors to this site) try to get people to engage in debate, or do you prefer to try to embarass everyone with such ad-hominems as this?

          • Lanthanide 10.2.1.1.1

            All he has to do is release his tax records, like American politicians do. Then we can see exactly where he is donating his money, and how much. A long with a whole bunch of other illuminating things. It needn’t be a PR stunt either.

            captcha: fiscal

            • mcflock 10.2.1.1.1.1

              Actually, I can see a case for all MPs and even local body politicians doing that. Maybe not the smaller ones, just all full-time representatives and people expected to represent more than say 10,000 people.

            • spam 10.2.1.1.1.2

              I give to charity, and it doesn’t appear in my tax records: 1.) I’ve signed something that lets the receiving organization get my tax rebate, rather than myself, and 2.) I’ve donated via direct bank transfer for which I don’t get a certificate. Just opening up the tax records may or may not show anything.

              • mcflock

                But the fact that you give to charity is not being used to gain personal or political points and goodwill. Hell, I didn’t ask for a tax receipt last time I put change in a box for chch, either.

                I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone denigrate Key for giving to charity. He does get a lot of crap here for suggesting he might give substantial amounts to charity (not asserting he will, or naming which ones), and then not claiming (let alone proving) whether he does in fact do so. And ISTR some tories have been ridiculed for asserting that Key does give his salary to charity, purely on the basis of one of Key’s earlier moments of making shit up as he goes along.

                It’s a bit like me saying “oh, well, I might make a cure for cancer next week, something like that”, and never following up on it. But when I do something prickish a year later my defenders then claim “But he cured cancer!”

          • Marty G 10.2.1.1.2

            Every US president and candidate since the 1970s has volunatarily made their tax records public, as do many other candidates for other offices.

            In Norway, everyone’s tax records are public.

      • Colonial Viper 10.2.2

        Denigrated for making it a PR point: big difference. Plus what does he actually give anyway? He claimed in the public domain that he did, so where is the proof?

      • Deadly_NZ 10.2.3

        And any way arent donations to charity, Tax deductible????

  11. Irascible 11

    Key’s response is based on the charity response mode of the “celebrity”…. To help out xxxxxx I and a few mates will hold a charity mutual cheering fest to show how much we care. That’ll get us coverage in OK magazine & Woman’s Day and make our stocks go up when the awards come around.”
    A philosophy that is expected of the self-serving but definitely not of someone who is meant to be serving his country selflessly.

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    I have to say, that makes my heart sink. Because, I had expected a serious response, and this looks like more of the same from Key.

    It is more of the same from NACT – more of keeping the rich rich at everyone else’s expense.

  13. Tony 14

    When annoucing the National Emergency Key said the below. Big on promises. But the response to the 04 September quake was inadequate to say the least.

    “On behalf of the Government, let me be clear that no one will be left to walk this journey alone. New Zealand will walk this journey with you. We will be there every step of the way. Christchurch; this is not your test, this is New Zealand’s test. I promise we will meet this test.

    We have a city to rebuild. We have peoples’ livelihoods to restore. We have a community’s confidence to inspire. We will rise to these challenges.

    As we look to the future, New Zealanders should know that the Government is going to do everything we can to support the recovery and rebuilding of Christchurch”.

  14. erentz 15

    “I’m not too happy, frankly, with the idea of a global appeal for money. I just don’t think we need to be first in line for the world’s limited aid dollar.”

    Completely agree, and the thought of him going on Letterman and the like to promote it makes me queasy. How bad does it look to intelligent people around the world if our joke of a prime minister appears to appeal for charity for an earthquake in a first world country. It’s just disgusting frankly to consider such a thing. We’re a first world country, we can handle this ourselves and with the generosity of our allies if necesary, we don’t need to ask for charity.

    I have to say I don’t have any illusions about Key somehow changing overnight and becoming a great prime minister because of this disaster. He’ll keep on doing the same old. Since when do National adapt their policies in response to inconvenient little things like evidence, and changing circumstances.

    I expect now National is likely to sleepwalk into another term of Government without mentioning asset sales and the like, afterwards the sales will come and half the country will just go, “uhh, we didn’t want that, doh, we just thought he looked nice while he was stammering into the camera in front of those collapsed buildings.”

    (Please reassure me that I’m just being too cynical.)

    • bbfloyd 15.1

      the really intelligent ones already know what he is. nothing he does now will surprise any of them. the ones he wants to impress are the dupes who will keep voting for him. god knows there are enough of them.

      and if you’re thinking that he wouldn’t give you a flacid furburger for your anguish, you’d be right.

    • weka 15.2

      I’m not too happy, frankly, with the idea of a global appeal for money. I just don’t think we need to be first in line for the world’s limited aid dollar.

      I feel ashamed to be a NZer. I’ve not felt that before. Likewise with the Oprah/Letterman stuff.

      captcha: fair

  15. grumpy in Poland 16

    Grumpy is currently in Eastern Europe after having left my hometown Christchurch last Friday. I am continually amazed at the genuine concern expressed by everyone I meet at Christchurch’s tragedy.

    When you look at the history of countries such as Poland in surviving and prospering from their enormous past devastation, both physically and politically, it’s all a bit overwhelming.

    it’s also a bit distressing to see the usual cheap pointscoring from both sides re-emerging on this blog but I suppose that’s only natural.

  16. ChrisH 17

    Christchurch is the nerve centre of New Zealand’s tourism industry. This is not only because of its location in the scenic South Island, but also because its gothic, pedestrianised, Old World appearance (complete with tram) provides a degree of psychic reassurance to European and Asian tourists far from home and about to embark on a slightly scary wilderness adventure. If Christchurch is rebuilt in a bland, alienating American corporate style, resembling Albany, let’s say (the nerve centre of the Hollow Men) then it will lose this quality of reassurance. I think we can probably say goodbye to a certain proportion of our tourist industry if that happens. So Christchurch needs to be rebuilt in a style that retains as much of its formerly cosy, reassuring character as possible, for the sake of the tourism industry. There is a close if not exact parallel in Germany, where Freiburg-im-Breisgau, gateway to the Black Forest where many go on holiday, was rebuilt in its former mediaeval style after near total destruction in 1945. Modern building was deliberately avoided in the centre of town, probably for the sake of the local tourism economy. Christchurch is the Freiburg-im-Breisgau of New Zealand in my opinion. Food for thought, though I suspect that those who need to think these thoughts, won’t.

  17. randal 18

    key and his crew wopul;d be well advised to stay away from chch.
    if they hang around too long they will get the blame.
    chch will renew itself better and brighter than before so there is no worries there.
    classical economist alfred marshall commented on how quickly cities rebuilt themselves after the depredations of war and chch is no exception.
    it will come back but a bit of planning would not go astray.

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