I was much impressed with what you shared with us on your last night’s program “Campbell Live” (21st May 2013). Listening to my fellow Cantabrians and what they had to say quietened me down. When you talk about resilience, about “standing tall” in the middle of their tribulations, these people are the true heroes of our city. They blaze a trail for the country. (See http://www.3news.co.nz/Chch-residents-share-EQC-frustrations/tabid/367/articleID/298487/Default.aspx). Compared with their testimonies Ian Simpson and Gerry Brownlee had no relevant, substantial or new input to give. It was the kind of talk we in Canterbury have heard numerous times before. (See http://www.3news.co.nz/Brownlee-EQC-assessments-not-an-easy-challenge/tabid/367/articleID/298494/Default.aspx).
What I would like to bring to your attention is that these personal testimonies, although very moving, do not reveal some of the underlying problems we face. Why are so many in Christchurch are still suffering?
Is it because, after two and a half years, EQC still hasn’t managed to get its act together?
Is it because people are continually disempowered by those who are appointed to come and help them recover their homes and lives?
Is it because of the lack of transparency and communication between national and local authorities in charge of the recovery?
Is it about the ill match of rebuilding a central business district in the city without at the same time supporting and rebuilding struggling communities?
Is it because the peoples’ recovery is being “left to the market”?
Is it because of the fact that in the process the building codes have been changed on three different occasions, driving the costs of repairs down and consequently the insurance settlements down – at the expense of the equity in people’s homes?
Is it because property developers are preying on what bargains are to be had and turning condemned places into temporary rental accommodation, making small fortunes in the process?
Is it because a disaster of this scale proves that the protection of affected citizens cannot be left to the corporates with no authority holding them to account?
Is it because the corporate insurers cannot juggle policyholder protection while simultaneously pleasing their shareholders?
Is it because governments no longer prioritize the protection of the afflicted and the most vulnerable in society?
Is it because in our own capitalist societies’ financial considerations outweigh human need?
Is it because we have chosen to go down the wrong track by choosing individual gain and prosperity over and above the common good and well-being of the people at large?
These underlying motives and drivers should and need to be explored and exposed. They deserve ongoing public debate. This is where the lessons are to be learned. Until and while we as a Nation, remain unable to go down this road of self-reflection, personal stories will continue to break our hearts, but they will continue to leave us paralyzed all the same, because, in the end, nothing will change for the better.