Archives for category: the Daily Blog

This is a cross-post of my most recent piece, which went up at the Daily Blog on Saturday.

A change of seasons, and a mysterious smell hangs in the air over Christchurch. No-one quite knows what it is. Could it be the change of council, alongside the change in the seasons? Is this the Canterbury Spring? In one of the least surprising elections of all time, Lianne Dalziel coasted into the mayoral chambers without even breaking a sweat; along with her came a swag of new councillors, many from the left, many with some innovative new ideas. It wasn’t just talk though – one of her first actions was to put a stop to some of the excessive spending that seems to have characterised the arrogant, out-of-touch attitude of the Parker-led administration. Just this week, the first council meeting was opened up to the sunlight of the livestream. Not much happened, but it was the principle of the thing. We could watch nothing happen, from the comfort of our own homes. We could watch it later, if we had something else to do, like, say, work.

The council isn’t the only thing that is showing signs of changing – the big man may be for turning. Incoming councillor Raf Manji is leading the voices questioning the wisdom of the “green frame”. I’ve written about it before, but this is the large amount of land that was going to be bought up and converted into green space on the centre-east part of the CBD. Except now the green elements are being watered down, with buildings and projects being added. The grand artifice of the blueprint, with it’s digital flyovers and shiny brochures, is starting to crumble. The revelations about EQC intentionally excluding people from it’s surveys was not taken well by Gerry, who has been less than supportive of his chief executive, Ian Simpson. Even the recovery’s most vocal cheerleader, Peter Townsend from the chamber of commerce, has admitted that we are only 3-5% of the way through the rebuild. Coming up to 3 years after the February quake, that simply isn’t good enough.

In the middle of this dynamic time, the Labour party made the bold choice to have it’s annual conference in Christchurch. I was on the organising committee for the conference, and it certainly wasn’t easy to hold it here. We could have done it somewhere else, and it would have been much, much easier for everybody. But we stuck with it, and made sure it happened here – because it meant something to the party, to give something back to the city. The organising committee was then rewarded by the party for their work hosting, with some bold policy announcements which will help the city get out of this rut.

The announcements at conference – KiwiAssure, plus extra Kiwibuild in the east, red zone temporary accommodation and the New Brighton revivatlistation – are all designed to benefit Christchurch East, but the also single the end of the phoney war that has been going on over the rebuild. “Don’t politicise the rebuild” has been the catch-cry since February. These announcements show that Labour isn’t afraid to make some bold decisions. The Christchurch East by-election is high stakes, for both Poto Williams and David Cunliffe. A win onNovember 30 wont just be a vindication of the change of leadership; it will be the next step towards winning back Christchurch, and ultimately the Treasury benches, in 2014.

In case you missed it, my column about the redrawing of the electoral map in Christchurch is up over at the Daily Blog:

Christchurch East has been hardest hit, losing around 10,000 people – or 23% of the roll. Port Hills and Christchurch Central also lost around 10%. The big gains were in Selwyn – up 13,000, Waimakariri – up 7,000, and Wigram – up 5,000. Ilam’s population hasn’t moved significantly. This will obviously have major impacts on electoral boundaries, but the current Christchurch East by-election is being contested on existing lines, and this will make this an even tighter race.
We know that turn-out in by-elections is already low. This means that Labour will have to run a concerted campaign which gets as many people who might have forgotten or chosen not to vote at the last election out of the house. In the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election, 35.7% of the enrolled voters cast a vote; if that percentage voted in Christchurch East, we would be looking at around 16,500 voters. At the 2011 election, almost 29,000 people cast votes in this electorate – and 13,252 of those votes were cast for National.

I’d also add that I think that Christchurch Central may actually be more vulnerable than Christchurch East; we won’t know until the boundary meetings obviously, but it may be easier to merge Central into East and then form a new electorate out of the population increase in the north and west of the city. Wild speculation at this point.

You can also use their fancy new donation box to give me money, apparently.

I have a blog about the Hagley Oval saga over at DailyBlog today. I end up on a tangent about strip clubs…

Asked who would fund the strip club, Brownlee shrugged his shoulders, before pointing in the direction of Mayor Bob Parker and saying “him, I guess”. Further pressed to provide an economic plan for the construction of the club, or modeling which would support the numbers of tourists claimed by the CCDU, a clearly tired Brownlee blurted out “look, there will be strippers, ok? Don’t you like strippers? Everyone likes strippers.”

I’ve posted a blog over at the Daily Blog, just thought I’d link to it here as some folk might not know about it. Jamie Gough, and the question of pecuniary interests at the Christchurch City Council:

On Monday, Gough could justify rebates for developers. On Tuesday, he couldn’t find anything for social housing. Does this have anything to do with him coming from a prominent property developing family?

In case you didn’t know, I also have a fortnightly post over at The Daily Blog, where I take a slightly broader view to try and explain the situation down here to an audience from across the country. My latest post looks at the consenting issue. Hopefully I’ll be back later in the day to cover Brownlee’s war on culture.