If this isn’t corrupt practice, what is?

By   /   August 29, 2016  /   29 Comments

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It’s become a well-accepted fact in Christchurch that wealthier areas of the city received a better deal from government agencies and quicker responses to the disastrous earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 than poorer suburbs.

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It’s become a well-accepted fact in Christchurch that wealthier areas of the city received a better deal from government agencies and quicker responses to the disastrous earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 than poorer suburbs.

The feeling runs deep in some places – right down to who got portable toilets first when the need was much greater elsewhere in the city.

The west of the city is where the wealthy live while those on the lowest incomes are to the East. This socio-economic division which overlaps the geographic divide has been exacerbated by 30 years of successive Labour and National government neo-liberal economic policies. Add the earthquakes into the mix (the east was much worse affected than the west) and six years later the contrast between east and west is as stark as two different cities in two different worlds.

National’s Minister of Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee is the MP for Ilam which includes the wealthiest suburbs in Christchurch and Brownlee claims that perceptions the wealthy get a better deal are easy to create but have no substance.

But substance was in plentiful supply last week as it emerged that in the wake of the September 2010 earthquake four properties in the wealthiest suburb of Fendalton (in Brownlee’s electorate) received treatment from the National government cabinet which can only be described as obscenely gold-plated.

The story is here.

While other properties were to be covered by a $140 million land remediation fund National’s cabinet agreed to pay five landowners on “isolated properties” individual payouts well above what they would normally be entitled to.

So what were these property owners entitled to receive?

According to cabinet papers the payouts by EQC in place at the time (2010) would have covered re-levelling of the land which would have meant approximately $20,000 per property.
However cabinet decided to pay these wealthy property owners the to the tune of $595,000 each (sic)

Just to make sure readers understand this – here it is again. Four of Brownlee’s wealthy constituents received $595,000 each in government payouts when they were entitled to just $20,000 each from EQC.

Brownlee is trying to create smoke and confusion around these payments saying they were justified based on circumstances at the time – blah blah.

Yet he can’t obscure the brutal truth that wealthy landowners in Brownlee’s electorate were given massive taxpayer handouts for earthquake damage while others in the city have had to fight tooth and nail, through physical and mental exhaustion to get even a few EQC crumbs.

Brownlee makes the extraordinary statement that “The question simply was what is the fastest way forward for people on that particular stretch of river bank?”

“That particular stretch of riverbank” is in Brownlee’s wealthy electorate – so what about the thousands of other riverbank properties similarly affected in other lower-income parts of the city?

From the stuff report:

EQC Fix project liaison Mel Bourke said there would have been numerous properties in Christchurch which had been damaged to the same extent as the Fendalton four.

The payouts were “not a good look”, she said, with many Christchurch homeowners who had land damage believing they were offered insufficient payments.

EQC has said some red-zone stayers, on land unsuitable to rebuild on after the earthquakes, could expect payments of about $1000 to settle land damage claims

In May, EQC said about 5400 Increased Flooding Vulnerability (IFV) claims would receive a settlement using the diminution in value process. The average payment for IFV was $23,000, but some were as low as $2000.

Some small credit to EQC which now feels embarrassed about the payouts saying they are “not a good look”.

That’s no comfort to anyone else.

Behind it all is the cruel truth that, in the words of National blogger Cameron Slater, National regards Christchurch east voters as “scum” and “useless pricks”.

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29 Comments

  1. bert says:

    Brownlee is evidence surrounding “Fat Cats”

    This should be the front line story of television news!

    • bert says:

      Sorry just saw the front page of the Herald online… a story of Key washing his own car… oh for F#^#@ sake!

    • Dave says:

      @BERT : Yea right it might get a split second on one but mediaworks wont be mentioning it on the order of there master key. Its stinks to high heaven that big Gezza can even do it wait for the smoke and mirrors show should be a good one this time

  2. Mike the Lefty says:

    I recall seeing an item on one of the news programmes about a resident in west Christchurch who saw a team of people assiduously going from door to door in a street which had little apparent damage (I did say APPARENT). I cannot remember the name of the street but I think it was 1-2 weeks after the second earthquake.
    The old guy asked the men why they were wasting so many man hours on a street that was barely touched when they should have been over on the east where the damage was much much worse.
    They told him they had been “directed” to this area. It would have been interesting to know who directed them.
    It isn’t the first accusation against National that they were more concerned about the generally less damaged National-voting areas of western Christchurch and (of course) the CBD where their supporters have businesses. Apparently the Labour voting south and eastern residential areas were considered a lower priority for action, even though they were extensively damaged.
    And I repeat what I have claimed before: National used the earthquake to break up the great Labour voting blocs of eastern and southern Christchurch. This was part of their plan for the rebuild of Christchurch, although they left that part out of their public announcements.

  3. save nz says:

    Shocking. I also heard that Brownlee is personally friends with many developers in the Chch CBD and they also received money and preferential treatment all throughout the earthquake. Someone should look into the amount of payments made to owners in the CBD, the speed of their treatment compared to other business owners and their links to Brownlee.

    In addition some of the red zone land, was deemed unsuitable for building on PRIOR to the earthquake and the council denied the resource consents. The developers then took it to the environment court and won. The land was developed and then severely damaged in the earthquakes (and possibly bought by the government with tax payers money). So the developers who obviously went to court with ‘evidence’ saying how suitable the land was to be developed and won, should be investigated how this turn about happened and then what happened in the earthquake.

    If all this is covered up all the time, no lessons are learnt and the problems continue.

    • Dave says:

      Yep it needs looking into, its everywhere and its all about money and votes but theres usually sex in there somewhere, seriously they really need sorting out to get the track straight, this is only the tip of the iceburg.

  4. Takere says:

    The “Pie Murderer” has being actively involved in doing nothing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.When visiting family over the last 5 years. Having looked at the areas when driving through them. The least affected areas got all of the attention from EQC to make their data look good as those area’s were a quick fix. The areas in most need are, well, still waiting.

  5. Marcus says:

    No, its not corrupt practice at all!
    It is “business as usual” – National style.

  6. Stephen Howard says:

    It’s a pattern. After Treasury had advised the government that SCF was already in trouble, they extended the deposit guarantee to SCF. These weren’t mum and dad depositors with a few thousand dollars they could not afford to lose, but well heeled National Party supporter who had been chasing high returns on money they could afford to gamble with. That was 1.2 billion on giving their cronies an insurance cover after the facts. No one else gets insurance after the fact. In fact GB uses that to avoid paying out on red zone homes he ordered abandoned.

  7. Geoff Lye says:

    Yes and Riccarton got two fancy bus waiting rooms while bus users in the east have to wait outside two malls un the pouring rain under bugger all shelter in the east. As Liane Daziel said why was Riccarton mall is in the ilam voting electrolette Brownlee put his oar in no doubt with his ecan Nat pals to make it happen. Cant have the monied people waiting in the rain blocking shop doorways now can we.

  8. Michal says:

    More reasons here to vote Dalziel out! She is truly hated in the eastern subrubs who voted her in year after year as a labour MP then deserted them when she became the mayor.

  9. Zack Brando says:

    A lot of favoritism has been given to a handful of construction companies in Christchurch. Often the owners of these now favored companies have garnered contracts because … please follow, the people awarding the contracts are the owners/benefactors of said favored construction companies.

    I understand that it’s advantageous to have industry specialists involved in awarding contracts, however it’s gone too far and there are glaring conflicts of interest.

    I wont name names, but put it this way, an owner of one of Christchurch’s largest (mainly residential at the time) construction companies was in his kitchen jumping for joy after the Christchurch earthquakes.

    His large company was in financial trouble – it is not now! He is one of the people involved in awarding contracts, obviously he’s giving as many as possible to his companies. The proverbial gravy train is chugging along nicely, for a few.

    The fact ANY construction companies in Christchurch have needed to file for bankruptcy is an indictment on the CCC, EQC and Gerry! To quote Donald Trump, “Get em OUT of Here!!!”

  10. Draco T Bastard says:

    Well, if they were only entitled to $20,000 then everything above that is a loan and needs to be repaid.

  11. mike says:

    Money and Nepotism couldn`t get a more wicked combination.

  12. CLEANGREEN says:

    Pure corruption is rife today, it’s time for a revolution.

  13. countryboy says:

    And this story is why everyone in Ch Ch left untainted should vote for John Minto for mayor. Great Story @ John Minto. Well done.

  14. Kyle says:

    New Brighton Road-its still a fucking disaster

  15. Dagný Emma says:

    Mr John Minto is either misinformed or hasn’t looked at the act….
    “Just to make sure readers understand this – here it is again. Four of Brownlee’s wealthy constituents received $595,000 each in government payouts when they were entitled to just $20,000 each from EQC”

    By referring to that some wealthy got a lot and that all are only tided to fixed amount of 20.000 is simply not correct, the wealthy if at imminent loss should have got paid what minimum section in the area costs, west or east same EQC land insurance.

  16. NZ_Seaweed says:

    I’m thinking an OIA asking for the particulars would be the way to go. He must be held to account….

  17. JR Murphy says:

    I was referred to the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988 last year by a judge, when trying to use the Magna Carta against ACC, NZ government and John Key.

    First law of all NZ law is Westminster Statute the 1st which says. Common right be done to all rich as poor. So Brownlee and those he represents have violated the law and should be subject to criminal charges – or at least prosecuted in some way under this law. Any lawyers out there with some balls?

    The reason this is the first law is it quite obvious – no poor person is going to follow laws if rich people don’t have to or if rich people are treated better. Brownlee needs to be challenged in court under this law and the government needs to retrieve the money they illegally gave to these wealthy people – or of course pay out the same amount to everybody else.

    Second law of all laws is Magna Carta – which says you are not allowed to destroy people and they must have access to right and justice – doesn’t sound like that is happening either.

    Makes me feel good that last year I saw Brownlee at Wellington Airport and bollocked the beegeezus out of him in front of everybody – he didn’t know what to do except run away like the coward he is.

    I fight for professional health care for myself and other mentally injured abused and traumatised people – like so many in Christchurch. I know how corrupt our government are, its a life and death struggle for me every day.

    Kia kaha to us all.

  18. What to you expect from Tories?

  19. Jennifer says:

    the payment these people received was correct under EQC Act as it was then,, it was changed later and has since been changed again. Now landowners are only entitled to a fraction of the amount the landowners received in 2010.

  20. Maree says:

    Man this govt needs to do a workshop on the determinants of health!! Mental illness has shot up by over 100%, the cost in terms of mental illnes will put greater strain on govt resources but guess they dnt give a shit. I believe this is a human rights breach.

  21. Richard says:

    East people compared to the west people. I lived by AMI Stadium when the feb quake hit. Massive damage everywhere. Myself and others on my street didnt ask if anyone needed help. We hust got stuck in and helped. Alot of old people reside in that area. We cleared liquifaction from properties, gave people food and stuff, shelter if needed, the 2 army guys down the road carried a couple of old folk out of thier house as they didnt have footwear on and had broken glass and ornamants all over thier floor. We went without power, water and toilets for weeks. Yet these ponsy Brownley people lost a lightbulb and got preferential treatment because they are rich. End of story. Because they are rich. I wasnt born in chch. I moved there in 2005 and loved the place. But it wasnt untill the quakes hit that i seen the um, how to put it nicely, segragation? The treatment of lower income earners? Or is it just blatent disrespect of people who struggle day after day to support themselves and thier familys and do the work that kept chch pumping? The government have no clue what they are doing or how things could of been done better. 1% of the people got a hell of a lot more than the rest, purely because they are rich. You dont see massive vacant land plots in fendalton do you? No. There was minimum damage there. A few houses had to be relevelled, a garage or 2 rebuilt, i know this as i helped a mate do a bit of work over there. Honestly, to me, this is worse than racism, lets call it, CLASSISM. Or a governments take on how a country should be run. Truth is. No current politician has a clue. People before money you bunch of clowns!!!

  22. Richard says:

    CLASSISM!



Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog, 5 Victoria St East/Queen St, CBD, Auckland, New Zealand.