Pita Sharples and the Maori Party wake up to the fact that something is rotten in Christchurch...

Maori Party co-leader Pita  Sharples has apparently  just discovered there is a expanding and deepening  housing crisis in the quake devastated eastern suburbs of Christchurch.

On a brief visit to Christchurch, Sharples was apparently  'shocked' to learn of the appalling conditions that people are being forced to endure in the Eastside.

Reports The Press::

Sharples visited Christchurch late last month and heard the "chronic housing issues" Maori community workers were still battling with, including a blind couple who were living in a garage and a woman who had been living in her car for weeks.

"I was shocked when I heard details of the hardships some people were enduring and I was really annoyed that they are still in that position," he said.

The  obvious question is where has Peta Sharples - and the Maori Party - been for the past year or so?  

Organisations like the Wider Communities Earthquake Action Network  and the Tenants Protections  Association have consistently highlighted the deepening crisis.   There have been protests outside Gerry Brownlee's Christchurch  office. There have been numerous meetings. Mayor Sideshow Bob has been consistently  lambasted  for his  failure to represent the interests of the eastern suburbs.

Helen Gatonyi of the Christchurch Tenants Protection Association said in April: 'We are in a crisis, crisis, crisis. It's just about as bad as it can get and, yet, it's getting worse,"

And just last month businesswoman Ann Robinson released figures that showed Christchurch tenants had been hit with rent rises of up to $50 a week, forcing some families to "slip below the poverty line"

Said Robinson: "We are looking at ordinary people who are now on the bones of their backside through no fault of their own. It is the working poor that have been left with financial issues from all this....There are massive, massive issues here. People say we are in a housing crisis now, but we are well and truly on the brink of something a lot bigger..'

Sharples response to the crisis is to suggest that Christchurch folk  squat in abandoned red-zoned homes rather than endure the  harsh winter months in garages and cars.   This has earned him, not surprisingly, the ire  of  the do-nothing Gerry Brownlee who has described his comments as 'irresponsible'.

But what is really 'irresponsible'  is a  Government  that refuses to acknowledge there is a crisis  and thinks, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that 'the market' will solve all of Christchurch's problems.

Says  Gerry Brownlee : "I've taken a good, hard look at it over quite a long period of time and I don't think it's a crisis,''

Rather than political grandstanding, Sharples  and the Maort Party should be publicly challenging  the Government for its failure to accept that a massive social crisis has unfolded in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch.


Julian Assange talks with Noam Chomsly and Tariq Ali, two major intellectual  figures of the left.

They discuss protest movements, democracy, and how the West completely failed to anticipate the Arab Spring.

Ali comments that representative democracy has become 'petrified'.  The decline in social mobility, and the increasing inequities of wealth and power,he says,  are all the result of the failure of Western democracy.

Says Ali:, "We are witnessing that democracy is becoming more and more denuded of content. It's like an empty shell. This is what is angering people. They feel 'whatever we do, whatever we vote for, nothing changes'."

This is the last episode of Assange's The World Tomorrow series, which has been broadcast in New Zealand on RT (Sky 96). it's been a great series.


Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt is playing games again.

Some things don't change so it comes as no surprise that the unpopular  Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt - and Sideshow Bob's faithful right had man - is playing up again.

Marryatt said in January - after a storm of public protest -  that  he would decline a $68,000 pay rise. But he still has to pay back  some  $26,000 which he had  already been  paid - and he  shows no indication that he intends  to pay it back anytime soon. Apparently 'Tony', despite being an employee of the Christchurch City Council and, in theory at least , is supposed to  work for the good people of Christchurch , thinks he can do  whatever he pleases and when he pleases  Such is the arrogance of the man.

Interestingly 'Tony's' salary review is  coming up in July and it will be interesting to see, in these tough economic times,  what sort of pay rise Sideshow Bob and co try to foist on the good people of Christchurch.

In my opinion  Marryatt  should get no increase at all but that's as about as likely  Sideshow Bob not  trying to fleece  Christchurch people  into  paying for  a world trip for him and the wife.

The Christchurch City Council gravy train may of  been slowed a little but it has yet to be derailed.

Meanwhile the Christchurch City Council have imposed a whopping a 7.5% rate increase on the people of Christchurch.

Cr Sally Buck  says the proposed rates rise is "way too high'. 

Its also unacceptable when we consider that Sideshow Bob and his flunkies want to use that increase to fund a new sports stadium, a convention centre  and a sports complex.


Greek's future lies with the left alliance, SYRIZA
Against a backdrop of fear and intimidation, the right wing New Democracy squeezed out a narrow victory  over the  left alliance of SYRIZA,  which has confirmed its place as a significant force in Greek politics.

SYRIZA's achievement  has  been nothing short of  remarkable given the fact  that it has not only had to campaign  against right wing  political forces within Greece , it has to confront a campaign  of fear  and intimidation mounted by  the European establishment. This was never an election fought on level terms - the European powerbrokers made sure of that. It would be interesting to know just how much foreign money has been poured into the coffers of New Democracy.

The European Union, the European Central Bank, the IMF and prime ministers and finance ministers from many European countries, all threatened that a victory for SYRIZA  would mean the end of EU funding (which in any case goes to pay German and French banks), Greek exit from the euro-zone, economic chaos, blah blah blah. Even Barack Obama, a man often heard pontificating  about  respecting the  'democratic rights' of other countries didn't feel any way constrained to respect the sovereign rights of Greece. He urged  Greek voters not to vote for SYRIZA.  What a hypocrite.

What scared the life out of the  European bourgeoisie is that SYRIZA  represented - and still represents -  a real threat to the neoliberal order and the polices of  austerity. SYRIZA's 's policies  include commitments to suspend Greece's debt payments, tax the super-rich and companies, cut military spending, nationalize the banks, strengthen workers' rights, close foreign military bases and to  quit NATO. It wants to use the buildings of the government, banks and the Church to house  the homeless.

Yes, housing the homeless is apparently a threat to the rule of capital.

Interestingly it seems that SYRIZA represents a generational shift in Greece. it attracted the majority  of the under-50 vote.  Young people have, significantly, cut their ties with Greece's established parties and are seeking a new way forward. This is immensely encouraging for everyone who is fed up with being told that there is no alternative to 'the market' and the best you can hope for is some 'tinkering' with the default settings - which is what the dismal Labour Party is  offering us all  in our country.

New Democracy has to somehow  cobble together a coalition. Already PASOK  (the Greek equivalent of the New Zealand Labour Party)  has shown itself  to  be less than enthusiastic about falling in  behind New Democracy . Its support for the austerity policies has cost it dearly and its electoral  support has effectively collapsed.  Not surprisingly, PASOK is  not overly eager to take the poisoned chalice that is being offered to it by New Democracy.

What is certain that the  continued pursuit of austerity policies (however much they are supposedly  modified')  will continue to drive the Greek economy deeper into the mire, 

Its likely that New Democracy will  be completely discredited - as well as any political party that chooses to jump into bed. with them.

SYRIZA  can only grow stronger as the parties of the ruling class continue to impose policies  that will only serve to provoke even more political opposition within Greece.

Meanwhile the storm clouds are building in Spain and Italy. The struggle continues.


Last week Sideshow Bob was waxing lyrical about 'Chinese style' economic booms. But, wait, there's more! This week he's  been talking rubbish about rugby.

This week the  Irish rugby team were the latest 'notables' to be given the guided tour of Christchurch's devastated central city. They joined   a lengthening list of VIPs and celebrities who have been given the escorted tour, ranging from US congressmen to former models.

Christchurch's central city has become  the conveniently  'acceptable' face of the city's devastating  earthquakes. The landscape of destruction , perversely, allows the likes of  Mayor Sideshow Bob and his master,  Gerry Brownlee,  to make wild claims about Christchurch rising from the ashes.  Yes, that good old 'Canterbury spirit' will pull us through. We're all packing up our troubles in our old kit bags  and I'm  sure that the Irish rugby team has been left with the distinct impression that the citizens  of  Christchurch  are all pulling in the same direction.

Perhaps if the Irish players had been given a guided tour of the quake-wrecked  eastern  suburbs  they  might of got a more accurate  picture of what is really happening in this city.

They might of got to see how ordinary  people are living in forgotten  areas like Aranui, Bexley, Shirley and New Brighton. They  might of got  to meet  families living in quake damaged houses.They might of got to meet people  living in garages.and caravans .  They  might have even begun to ask why people are still living like this, over a year since the second devastating earthquake.

The attitude of the execrable  Sideshow Bob has to been to keep his mouth shut and pretend that nothing is  wrong. Gerry Brownlee long ago decided there was no social crisis in the eastern suburbs and Bob, who has given new meaning to the word 'toady',  has fallen in line with his leader.     

While they Bob and Gerry  bend over backwards to placate vested business interests  you're out of luck if you're down and out in Aranui and Bexley.

Last week Sideshow Bob was waxing lyrical was about 'Chinese style' economic booms. That was a load of old tripe and this week he's been blowing hot air about rugby.

His weekly  column in the Christchurch Star is solely devoted to Saturday's  international between the All Blacks and Ireland.

Writes the revolting  Bob: 'This is a big milestone  for the  city as we rebuild what was damaged  in the earthquakes and get back to the 'new normal'.

The  'new normal'? What would that be exactly Bob? Living  in  garages? Being screwed by bloodsucking landlords? 

Bob even goes on to praise the speed in which the stadium  was built : '..the fact that we have  this facility up and running just over a year after Christchurch's worst ever natural disaster is a tribute to those involved.'

Its a pity that enthusiasm and determination - not to mention the money -  has been conspicuously missing in the eastern suburbs.  But, hey the eastern suburbs have never been 'sexy' and afford little opportunity for Sideshow to inflate his already inflated ego. 

On Friday night, Bob informs us, 'I'll spend some time with the Irish consul-general, the president of the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Irish ambassador.' How nice.

Never mind folks, if you're shivering with cold  in a wrecked home  just remember that, according to Sideshow Bob, 'this is an exciting weekend for our city'.


The Queen's Diamond Jubilee was a grotesque celebration of power and privilege.

I'm not one who went into raptures  about Liz's 'Diamond Jubilee'. In fact I thought the whole affair was grotesque - although possibly slightly less grotesque than the way the sycophantic  media fawned all over it.

Here was Britain's prevailing culture on  display for everyone to see, the worship of ruling class authority and the elevation of personal  privilege above the common  good. Yet all the pageantry (paid for by the British people) associated with this flaunting of power and  privilege was celebrated by the media as if it  somehow represented all of the British people.  One commentator described it as 'the essence of Britain'.  Tell that to  the millions of Britain out of work, living in poverty, homeless. Tell that to the  99 percent of the British population  having to carry the economic  burden for the follies of the one percent - most of whom were probably on Liz's  personal invitation list.

In Britain much of the authority remains with the old elites but  they have been joined by some new ones. The crown, the landowners, the lords, the church still retain considerable economic power. In the past forty years or so they have been joined by the new financial, military and media elites who have intertwined with  the hierarchies of the old order.

The British Parliament, like our parliament. has been divested of much of its power and British voters - like New Zealand voters - have been presented with a set of political parties whose ultimate loyalty is to the ruling class and the values of 'the market'. If anyone still believes that social democratic parties are still vehicles for progressive change then the attendance of British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband at the service at St Paul's Cathedral was instructive. He looked relaxed, comfortable among his peers.  In contrast he looks like a fish out of water among the workers he and his party  pretend to represent.

This was more than an  event of staged  delusion and distraction.  it was a  polite slap in the face for a British working class that is more economically  downtrodden than it has been for decades. But, never mind, here's a few rich pop stars to entertain you for a few hours. Elton John, the Jester in the Queen's Court, croaked  a few songs and so it went on. And on

What was obviously missing during this salute to power and privilege  was Britain's  proud radical and revolutionary history -  a tradition based on the ideas of freedom, equality  and true democracy.  Never mind folks - you can have Lenny Henry and Robbie Williams instead.

I can quickly bring to mind radical figures like Robert Owen, Charles Kingsley, William Morris , Anna Wheeler, Marx and Engels. the Chartists, the Tolpuddle Martyers the Levellers , the Jarrow March, Tom Paine and the Rights of Man.  When people sing 'Jerusalem' how many know that it is  call to build socialism in 'England's green and pleasant land' and not just the anthem of the England cricket team?

This is Britain's real history and it is a history  that the ruling class seeks to deny for it demands social justice, solidarity and equality.

England arise! the long night is over,
Faint in the east behold the dawn appear;
Out of your evil dream of toil and sorrow,
Arise, O England, for the day is here;
From your fields and hills,
Hark! the answer swells
Arise, O England, for the day is here.

Edward Carpenter, 1886


Noel Coward v The Sex Pistols.


Sideshow Bob has got nothing to say about the deepening social crisis in the eastern suburbs. He'd rather talk about 'Chinese-style booms' instead.

Mayor Sideshow Bob was on Mike Yardley's morning show this week on NewstalkZB. He was interviewed by Yardley and took several questions from listeners.

I didn't hear the entire show but I did hear Bob, in response to what seemed to a be a patsy  question from a caller, go into raptures about Christchurch looking forward to a 'Chinese-style boom' and that this  was a time  for entrepreneurs and these were  exciting times, blah blah blah.  We're all heard this kind of  thing  a hundred times before  from other cheerleaders for the government.

Meanwhile,  out in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch, people continue to struggle. The social crisis deepens as we head into another long winter. It's a damning indictment on Sideshow  Bob, Gerry Brownlee and on Roger Sutton  that the situation in the Eastside  has not only not improved - it has deteriorated further.

Just  a ten  minute walk or so from my place a number of state houses have been boarded up. Caravans have now appeared in several of  the front  gardens.They are home to families with nowhere else to live. Perhaps Bob could pay them a visit and tell them all about his 'Chinese style boom'. I'm sure that will cheer them up no end.

In the Eastside  people are living in damaged houses in the red zone  because they cannot afford the astronomical rents  being demanded by bloodsucking landlords, people are living in garages and in  cars, they  are living in overcrowded conditions .

House rents  have shot up astronomically. Landlords are exploiting people's desperate situations by demanding rents  far in excess of what could be considered fair and reasonable.  Rents are, on average,   20 percent higher than they were at the same time  last year.  This is nothing more than price gouging yet absolutely  nothing has been  done about it .  Why isn't Sideshow Bob  demanding that a cap be put on rent increases in order to prevent price gouging?

Why isn't he doing his job and  representing all  the people of Christchurch?  Because he's Gerry Brownlee's pet poodle that's why.

On May 20, the day of the rally to save the Cathedral, approximately one hundred people protested outside of Gery Brownlee's National Party office. They carried placards with message like 'Freeze the rent”and “Rent is too damn high”

The Government has  failed to provide anything  near enough  low cost housing and the people in the eastern suburbs are paying the price for this inaction.

In April  Sideshow Bob.when pressed by TV3's The Nation,  grudgingly  admitted that the lack of affordable  housing was 'a crisis for some people'. But since then he has done Brownlee's bidding and kept his   mouth shut.

Instead Bob would rather blow hot air  about 'Chinese style booms' and pretend that there isn't a deepening  social crisis happening in his own backyard.

He is a disgrace and the good people of Christchurch deserve a whole lot better.


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