There are two far-right people writing letters to the this morning’s Press, claiming the Government package is too generous, and that they have no obligation to buy land (the letters editor has given them the titles “Government Generous” and “Too Generous”). The two letter writers listed their suburbs as “Upper Riccarton” (the unaffected west) and “Strowan” (the word prats from Merivale use to make themselves feel even more elitist). C Newman of Strowan said:

“The Government has been over generous with taxpayers’ money towards the householders of Christchurch, maintaining the myth that the state is there to protect the citizen from nature.”

He goes on to spout some deplorable neoliberal drivel that only someone who had undergone a complete empathy lobotomy could think. If C Newman of Strowan weren’t so clearly prejudiced, he might like to do some research before he puts his bucolic pen to paper. Confident that he* wont bother to do so, I’ll refute some of that crap here.

The second part of his statement above – “maintaining the myth that the state is there to protect the citizen from nature” – has he heard of EQC? It was not set up to literally protect the individual from the effects of nature, but it can do the next best thing. From the Earthquake Commission Act of 1993:

The functions of the Commission are—

(a) to administer the insurance against natural disaster damage provided under this Act

EQC, which is a body that is set up and run soley by the Government of New Zealand, for the people of New Zealand, lists it’s primary function as providing insurance against natural disaster damage. That’s not a myth. It’s in legislation. Publicly available legislation that people like C Newman of Strowan could investigate, if they had the innate curiosity that bigots of the far-right clearly lack. Though I do wonder whether C Newman of Strowan might not qualify as far-right – even those on the hard right would generally agree that if the state is to have any role in the lives of it’s citizens, it is to try and protect them.

David Weusten, of Upper Riccarton writes:

“I applaud the Government on its offer to purchase red-zoned preoperties, as it was under no obligation to do so and has helped minimise the equity destruction that those in the zone face.”

This letter, and that of C Newman of Strowan, imply that the Government has been overly generous, that they are just handing out money willy nilly, bundles of notes to all these undeserving, unhoused people. Again, this is about as far from reality as C Newman of Strowan is. I hate to be a bore, and keep citing the same source, but in this case, the legislation does seem like an appropriate thing to take the time to read. Clause 19, Residential Land:

Subject to any regulations made under this Act and to Schedule 3, where a residential building is deemed to be insured under this Act against natural disaster damage, the residential land on which that building is situated shall, while that insurance of the residential building is in force, be deemed to be insured under this Act against natural disaster damage to the amount (exclusive of goods and services tax) which is the sum of, in the case of any particular damage,—

(a) the value, at the site of the damage, of—

(i) if there is a district plan operative in respect of the residential land, an area of land equal to the minimum area allowable under the district plan for land used for the same purpose that the residential land was being used at the time of the damage; or

(ii) an area of land of 4 000 square metres; or

(iii) the area of land that is actually lost or damaged—

whichever is the smallest; and

(b) the indemnity value of any property referred to in paragraphs (d) and (e) of the definition of the term residential land in section 2(1) that is lost or damaged.

Now, I know there are quite a few words there, and that C Newman of Strowan and others of that persuasion might have trouble getting through them all, so I will summarise it: EQC covers the land under a house. You say “generous”, I say “obligation as defined by law”**. So all this shit about the government being generous, or too generous, is some of the most offensive crap I have ever heard. Ever since the 4th of September, we have been waiting for a land package. We knew that the EQC would pay for land. That’s why we were waiting for a land package. Then, somewhere around the time of the June 13th aftershocks, people seem to have forgotten about this. Then, Generous John Key strolls in to town, offers to buy people’s land, doesn’t bother to remind people that the government was always going to buy the land, and people think he’s the most charitable guy since Allan Hubbard. The Government – whether intentionally or not – has used the word “generous” with regards to their clearly flawed land package offer so frequently that it has now become attached. It’s either very smart, or very cynical, to successfully rebrand your obligations as generosity.

I’m not going to go into all the ways that the package is anything but generous right here – I’m getting angry enough to write another blog about that soon. Suffice it to say that contrary to what C Newman of Strowan thinks, this package will see a large number of people – people from some of our poorest and most vulnerable areas – struggling to re-house themselves in Christchurch. The sad fact of the government response is that the good, hardworking people of the East may end up having to move out of Christchurch, leaving us with a city over-represented by detestable cunts like C Newman of Strowan.

* Halfway through writing this, I realised that C Newman could actually be a woman. I guess I just assumed that someone with such misguided, hateful thoughts could only be an aging, spite-filled man who has little to look forward to in life but the thrill he gets from yelling at his neighbour’s yappy novelty dog. I guess that I have encountered fewer female hard-right nutters in my times. I could be wrong on this.

** I guess you could argue that the legislation doesn’t explicitly state that the EQC will “buy” the land, but it clearly states that the EQC will pay for the cost of it.