Sideshow Bob contradicts himself - he now says there is no housing crisis in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch. So people who are paying extortionate rents for substandard housing have just been told by Sideshow that he doesn't believe them. Nor does he think there's a problem with folk living in damaged houses, in overcrowded conditions and in garages.
In April last year, in the face of persistent questioning from TV3's The Nation, Sideshow Bob grudgingly conceded that there was a housing crisis for 'some people' in Christchurch.
Parker had to be pursued for a direct answer because it meant he had to publicly contradict his political master, Gerry Brownlee, who claimed there was no housing crisis in Christchurch - and still does.
Since then though Sideshow has kept his mouth shut and largely ignored what is happening in the eastern suburbs.
He has had nothing to say about the extortionate rents being demanded by landlords keen to exploit people's desperation for somewhere to live. Nor has he had anything to say about people still living in damaged houses and in garages and in overcrowded conditions. When it looks like he might have to defend the embattled citizens of the eastern suburbs, Sideshow is suddenly 'not available' for comment. But he is keen to talk about cardboard cathedrals, food forests, cycleways and what a great little city Christchurch is. And if you're lucky, he might show you his holiday snaps from his January junket in Seattle.
Sideshow Bob though is now more than keen to talk about the housing crisis. But there's a big catch - he is claiming that there is no housing crisis. In the nine month period since his The Nation interview the crisis has apparently evaporated into thin air. Just like Bob's promise to be more 'accountable' and 'transparent'.
He told The Press that he'd 'never spoken to anybody, even those who were struggling, who hadn't been able to find somewhere in the end.'
Sideshow never ventures into the eastern suburbs because he fears getting confronted by angry Red Zone residents. So you have to wonder who he's been talking to. Let's just say Bob is well known for making things up.
Sideshow's comment was contained in an dismal article in The Press that purported to about the housing crisis.
The article, by Anna Turner, was dominated by interviews with several real estate vampires, a private landlord and .....Gerry Brownlee. Not surprisingly she came to the conclusion that had been signposted for her in large letters - 'Housing Crisis? What Housing Crisis?'
Ms Turner also writes a terribly fraught blog which is prefaced: 'A twenty-something's perspective on life, love, work and her struggle to join the real world. '
As the crisis has deepened and dragged on the government and its allies in Christchurch have upped the hype about all the 'progress' that is being made by the people of Christchurch.
An if something doesn't fit the narrative - it gets ignored or dismissed as false.
The Press has become the government's main cheerleader in Christchurch which is something that hasn't gone unnoticed by the newspapers' more conservative readers. Commented one reader on its website:
'When I moved to ChCh, I was told The Press was a left wing, rabble rousing rag. Since I moved here, found a lot of the stories followed that - unbalanced, out of context etc.New Editor clearly made a difference. Articles far more fact based. Far less emotive rubbish. Far more balanced view. Great Stuff! '
Just a few days ago The Press published a PR puff piece about the unpopular Gerry Brownlee. This one focused on his youthful days as a competitive singer. He might be presently destroying people's lives in the name of market economics, but, hey, he could once sing like Placido Domingo!
Late last year the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) held some two dozen public meetings throughout Christchurch. I attended one of the meetings. The hostility directed against CERA chief Roger Sutton and his colleagues was palatable. It was a similar story at all the other meetings.
Not one of these meetings was reported by The Press.
Now it is claiming, on the basis of a dodgy survey, that there is no housing crisis in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch. I'm sure that this will come as a great relief to the nine people (including children) who are living in a rented three bedroom house near me.
The property is on Carlton Mill Road and has been written off by the Earthquake Commission because the concrete slab has lifted and cracked.
Despite the fact that the property has been seriously quake damaged the rent being demanded is $400 a week. Before the earthquakes it was being rented for $330 a week.
The property is also on TC3 land which means it has suffered moderate to significant damage and that liquefaction is possible in any future large earthquakes.