Gerry Brownlee claims the Christchurch rebuild is being led by the local community. So when exactly did the people of Christchurch vote for the massive central city buildings that could bankrupt the city? Oh, that's right - they didn't.
Every month the good people of Christchurch receive a eight page full colour tabloid in their mailbox called the Greater Christchurch Recovery Update.
It is produced by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and is largely propaganda. Every month CERA and the Government pat themselves on the back with a whole load of good news stories about the wonderful things they are doing. The article I'm looking at right now is headlined 'Rescued plants to star at the Ellerslie International Flower Show'. It's about as substantial as Seven Sharp but, hey, its got that positive vibe!
So although it calls itself the Greater Christchurch Recovery Update there isn't much updating about anything that is of any real consequence and of concern to the good people of Christchurch. There's nothing about the housing crisis (because the government still won't admit there is one). There's nothing about the growing level of poverty in the eastern suburbs. There's also nothing about the misery that the insurance companies and the Earthquake Commission are continuing to cause. And there's certainly no mention of the difficulties that people are having with CERA.
Like the Christchurch rebuild itself there is no local input into this publication. Many community groups, I imagine, would like to pen a few words abut what is happening in Christchurch but the chances of their articles ever appearing in this publication are as likely as Gerry Brownlee not scoffing all the pies when no one is looking. This publication is put together within the auspices of the CERA bureaucracy and delivered to the masses whether they want it or not - just like CERA'S corporate-friendly central city plan.
Not surprisingly both Gerry Brownlee and CERA chief Roger Sutton contribute a column each to this publication.
In the latest issue Brownlee devotes almost half his column to criticising those who have had the bad form to say that local people have been shut out of the Christchurch rebuild process.
I hear a lot about a lack of community input into the recovery. This is nonsense. Communities are driving the recovery.
That's an interesting claim since the government has adopted a bureaucratic top-down approach to the rebuild. How exactly is the local Christchurch community driving the recovery? If the local community was indeed driving the recovery I don't think the eastern suburbs would still be the disaster zones they are today. Things would have got done.
Nor would we building a huge sports stadium in the middle of the city. Or a massive convention centre.
But Brownlee's idea of a community driven rebuild is the community driven rebuild you have when you're not having a community driven rebuild.
According to Brownlee:
'This community-led impetus is within the context of a planning and investment framework provided by the government, through CERA and other government agencies, and local territorial authorities.'
In other words the recovery is being directed and controlled by the government and CERA. The community is not at the heart of the rebuild and Brownlee's attitude is both arrogant and paternalistic We simple folk out in the suburbs should just organise a picnic or two and leave the real work to the big boys - the government and its corporate mates.
In his column Roger Sutton thinks we should all be very happy about 'The Amazing Place Schools Competition to design a playground and project for Christchurch's central city'. Gosh, Roger - first up, we got 'pop up picnics' and now playgrounds. Could you be any more banal? When did you come up with this? When you were shredding the Christchurch City Council's draft central city plan?
Well Roger, I'm not interested in some little playground. What I'm unhappy about is CERA continuing to ignore the eastern suburbs and CERA's decision to build some massive monoliths in the central city that could easily bankrupt this city. These are the projects of the corporates and the property developers. Perhaps you would like to us where the 'community involvement' is here?
In September last year Roger Sutton lashed out at former Mayor Garry Moore who commented that local people had been shut out of the rebuild process and that it was time shine the torchlight of democracy on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).
Sutton responded that someone had to lead the recovery - and it isn't the local community as his mate Brownlee claims. This is a top down rebuild controlled by the government and CERA. The corporates and the property developers will reap the big profits.
All local Christchurch folk are getting is patronising dribble from Brownlee and Sutton. And the huge bills.
Graphic: Porcupine Farm