Lack of certainty is killing the spirit and economy of Christchurch. Before the latest quakes there were already threats of protests because Brownlee has failed to announce which areas can’t be rebuilt on. That information is even more needed now. Brownlee says it’s ‘blindingly obvious’ which areas must go. He needs to drop the arrogance and inform people.
There are tens of thousands of households who are stuck right now and can’t move on. They have mortgages on munted houses and land which may never be rebuilt on. But until the government announces which land is to be abandoned, the people can’t get payouts and move, nor can they invest in rebuilding. Statements that which suburbs will be abandoned is ‘blindingly obvious’ without naming them only heightens the distress.
This stuff is obviously hard and the government can’t stop the aftershocks but people need solid information conveyed to them as unambiguously and quickly as possible to plan their futures and assure themselves.
For all I can see, the main activity of the government has been to spin, rather than act. Just in the past couple of weeks Brownlee, Key, and Bennett have started spouting a line that things ‘aren’t as bad as the doomsayers predicted’. They based that on the fact that the number on unemployment benefits hadn’t risen much in Christchurch by the end of May. But that is because, until the start of June, people were getting the special earthquake benefits. These have now stopped and the jobs are disappearing fast. The government must have known this would happen but, rather than do anything, they just distorted the facts for the purposes of spin.
Now, after the latest quakes, the government’s behaviour hasn’t changed. They spin that ‘we will stand beside you’ and tell people not to leave Christchurch but they don’t give them any reason to stay or any firm hopes.
Nearly 10% of schoolkids had left the city before the latest quakes, which suggests a similar portion of the population has packed their bags. The negative feedbacks of so many people leaving will force more people out of jobs and out of the city. Unless the government provides some leadership.
Don’t hold your breath.