“The opportunistic behaviour of the insurance companies, together with the lack of transparency within these corporations, is compounded by the failure of corporate watch-dogs such as government, the legal system and regulators to protect the public interest. In the background, behind closed doors, are the strategic alliances and the networked relationships between government, corporates, professionals and other major stakeholders. ” p 123 The Christchurch Fiasco: the Insurance Aftershock and its Implications for New Zealand and Beyond.
This week marks the two and a half year anniversary of the first devastating earthquake of early September 2010. That event did not attract too much attention. However the Christchurch recovery is now attracting plenty of attention of a different kind. The political parties are gearing up once again for the upcoming election later this year, and are setting the stage in Canterbury, with politicians scrambling to attract the Cantabrian vote.
Here in Canterbury the political clean up is also well on its way. National dumped Kate Wilkinson, Labour ‘sidelined’ Lianne Dalziel and Ruth Dyson and new political commitments have been made. For example New Zealand First proposed “Christchurch’s uninsured red zone property owners who accept the government’s 50 per cent compensation offer will get the other half if NZ First is part of the next government.” Wow, that is big! If my figures are right and considering the numbers of uninsured properties that should ‘bag’ New Zealand First at least 500 votes. Denis O’Rourke went on to say “In New Zealand when the government compulsorily acquires private land it pays the full value of it – the 50 per cent offer is a departure from normal practice and is an affront to fair treatment” instead “Insured red zone owners are being paid the rateable value and the government’s 50 per cent offer to uninsured owners has caused an outcry.” He is right of course, but we already knew that, so what does he suggest doing about it? Vote for NZ First? (See http://www.3news.co.nz/NZ-First-pledges-full-red-zone-payout/tabid/423/articleID/286903/Default.aspx#ixzz2Mi7yVga2). Providing answers for 500 homeowners is pretty selective given the fact that there are at least 200,000 people still “in the pipeline” waiting for resolution of their earthquake claims. I presume that for most of us here in Christchurch this proposal is anecdotal only.
I find the visit of the Labour leader, David Shearer, to Christchurch early this week even more disturbing. The reality is Labour is the only ‘big player’ to be able to present a feasible alternative. In his speech to representatives from the business community he promised a host of measures to ‘protect’ us and to help recovery on its way. If Labour gets back into power it would: “Commit to establishing a Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority board so that local independent voices were heard; Call for fresh elections for Environment Canterbury in 2015; Establish an independent insurance commissioner to help residents resolve disputes; Commit to funding some test insurance cases Cantabrians have been forced to take themselves“. Labour will put “Cantabrians back at the centre of their recovery“. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/8382264/Labour-will-put-Cantabs-at-centre-of-recovery). Again, all pretty conditional, because Labour promises will only come true if Labour is re-elected at the end of the year. A party that uses the same tactics as National did in the dumping of Kate Wilkinson, by demoting their locally effective representatives Lianne Dalziel and Ruth Dyson, will not turn the minds of affected Cantabrians.
In the meantime life goes on, Winter is approaching, what effective political support is to be provided by the political parties in the months to come? I presume they will leave it to National. Brownlee will continue to call the shots!? All those promises and future commitments will not speed up the delays many Cantabrians and businesses are currently suffering. It will not provide us with necessary policyholder protection, nor will it resolve the housing issues, nor provide a better way of delivering adequate community based education, nor create a viable future for the people living here or the manner in which the recovery is financed (e.g. the sale of city assets to partially fund the recovery). All these recent commitments and election promises are conditional and equate to no immediate help at all. In my opinion David Shearer has not only demoted but also demotivated the only two effective political representatives in Christchurch he is repeating the same mistakes as the present Government.
If you want my vote then I want to see some high level political action NOW! We are waiting to hear concrete proposals from the major parties on the issues mentioned above. Where are the Greens in all of this? Only concrete proposals now will help those parties to secure the Cantabrian vote in the upcoming election.
So who wants my vote? I am waiting to see some comprehensive and realistic proposals.
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