Archives for posts with tag: National

Aaron Gilmore has stepped out from the shadowy world of accountancy to offer his opinion on the Christchurch East by-election, and in his view, it’s not good for National:

He said National’s campaign for the by-election was “not being run right and I don’t think the candidate is right . They could have won with the right person and the right campaign. The major parties should have selected a well-known, local, successful person to make the result more clear-cut. People are annoyed no good local person put their name up.”

It’s hard to know what to think of this – does one discredit Gilmore because of his failure as a politician, or give some credence to a man who got 10,225 votes in the electorate last election? Either way, it shows that there has been no love lost between Gilmore and the National Party, which is one of the risks when you cut someone loose from the party, Chris Carter-style. From what I’ve seen of Matthew Doocey, he looks completely out of his depth; his performance at the first candidate debate could either be put down to nervousness, or an inability to comprehend basic English sentence structure. While the by-election on Saturday will ultimately come down to voter turn-out on the day, this has raised a potential embarrassing situation for John Key and National: that Aaron Gilmore was right.



National have announced that their candidate for the Christchurch East by-election will be Matthew Doocey. There is scant information about him except for the media release from the National Party.

The National Party announced tonight that Matthew Doocey, a 41-year-old Canterbury District Health Board manager, will be their candidate in the November 30 by-election.

I’ve not heard of the guy before, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I don’t know anything about him, but:

1: “Doocey” is going to be a fun name for taggers to play with

2: While he’s from Christchurch, he only returned to the city from the UK earlier this year. ie he wasn’t living in the East / the city / the country during the earthquakes which have defined this electorate and will define this by-election. He’s gonna have a hard time convincing constituents that he understands what they’ve been through.

3. They can probably mine this episode of SouthPark for campaign ideas

So the most powerful man in Christchurch – at least according to the Press – has taken to twitter to recycle this gem:

He asked people to retweet if they agreed – and while he got around 30, it’s hard to tell how many of them are genuine. Considering he has 83,000 followers, it’s not exactly a high percentage. Key was in the city today, visiting rebuild sites, and announcing the winner of a design competition for a playground. Across on the other side of town, the Phillipstown community was protesting the government’s decision to merge them with Woolston school. There were a number of politicians there – including Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson (Woolston school is in Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel, councillors Yani Johanson and Glenn Livingstone, as well as political studies lecturer Bronwyn Hayward. Notable by her absence was the MP who actually represents the area, Nicky Wagner. She was with the PM, tagging along as though she was John Key’s mullet – slightly behind, decades out of date, completely useless.

It’s this sort of uncaring negligence that is getting on Cantabrian’s nerves. While Key and his entourage go around cutting ribbons on hotel rooms and announcing playground competitions at private primary schools (does it really take the PM, at least two MPs and the mayor to make such a vital decision?), the people his government have left behind are out on the streets, working to save their communities from ideological indifference to their suffering.

You wanna roll out the big R word again? This shows how little you care about our plight. Cheryl Bernstein blogged about how we were sick of hearing that word IN AUGUST 2011. That’s practically 2 years ago. 2 years of empty promises, or patronising platitudes, of 100 day plans for the CBD and endless delays for residents. Compassionate, practical and resilient could describe our people in the immediate aftermath of the quakes, banding together, helping each other out. But if the PM had any idea what it was like to live down here, he would know that being practical doesn’t help when EQC won’t give you information about your own house, being compassionate isn’t easy when your insurer blames EQC, who blames the insurer, and being resilient isn’t much help when your fourth project manager rings to tell you that they need to come and do a 12th assessment of your house.

Resilience has two definitions. The first being the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. I’m sure that’s what everyone who overuses it means. The second, though, is slightly different. “The power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched.” Christchurch is so far away from being returned to the original form, or even something that looks different but at least functions like it did before. Opening a hotel, a playground design cometition and a hollow tweet show that this government has run out of ideas on how to fix it.


I’m not sure quite why it chose a Sunday, but this morning, John Key’s twitter account belched out three infographics about the Christchurch rebuild. They contain figures, numbers and some ticks, and are all in a soothing blue palate. But they aren’t very useful.

This one was about building consents. It shows a steady increase – although under the new CBD plan, the towers to denote Dec 2011, Mar 2012 and June 2012 would be prohibited from being built in the city, as they breach the 7-storey height limit outlined in the City Plan.

At the top of the graphic, it mentions the $3.9 billion spend up to the December 2012 quarter*. So why aren’t the Sep 2012 and Dec 2012 consent numbers included on the graph? Well, it’s because the December 2012 numbers are about 150 down on the September ones, so it wouldn’t much such a happy graph. So they just ignored it.

Update: I made the graph with the Sep and Dec quarters. Wasn’t hard to do – I even did the bars in a nice soft blue. You can see why they didn’t include the Dec quarter.

Total Consents in Canterbury

Another problem here is the scale – it looks impressive, as it comes off of a very low base. This base has been set low by the September and February quakes. I can’t imagine many people lining up to build after those events – and that’s what the numbers show. So this doesn’t really say much, as you’d expect that these numbers would increase. The problem with this info-graphic – and the other two really – is that they don’t place the numbers in any sort of meaningful context. Is 719 earthquake-related building consents in a quarter a lot?

An earthquake-ralted building consent is apparently any building consent (residential, non-residential, non-building) issued since September 2010. I’m not bored enough to go back and tally up all the building consents in Christchurch over the last decade, but I did find the numbers for residential building consents. They go like this:

New residential buildings for Christchurch city for the year to December:

2003 – 2542

2004 – 2492

2005 – 2095

2006 – 2240

2007 – 2375

2008 – 1282

2009 – 1248

2010 – 1492

2011 – 979

As you can see residential building consents have been falling for years. This graphic takes an arbitrary low point and calls it a baseline, without giving us any other context. And even then, the number of ERBCs from Dec 2010 through to Jun 2012 – 2,412 – is lower than the number of residential consents per year from the mid 2000’s. Or number for context – we’ve lost about 10,000 buildings since the quake.

All the consent numbers are on this page at Stats NZ, so if you like your figures hard and truthy, rather than soft and manipulated, that’s the place to go.

* this figure – $3.9 billion – can’t be just the value of earthquake-related building consents, as that is only $793.3 million since Sept 2010. I assume it includes other building work in Canterbury, but don’t know where the number is from. If the bars below show numbers for one thing, then the figure at the top should relate to the same data set. Bad form.

This one is probably the worst of the three. The figures have been cribbed from the Press lift out I mentioned above (which cites their sources as CERA, EQC, Stats NZ and SCIRT.) The figures are pretty much the same, though with some generous rounding up (the Press says 104km of wastewater pipe, National rounds up to 111km.) Again, the problem here is context. 21 km of fresh water pipe means nothing if you don’t tell us how much they have to repair. If there is 25km to repair, we’re almost there; if there is 1000km, we’ve barely started. SCIRT estimates that there is 51km of water pipe to repair – so almost half way. Pretty good. Wastewater damage is estimated at 528km, so about a fifth. Less good. Roading damage is listed as 1,021km, but the info graphic has gone for square metres of pavement. My suspicion would be that they have used that unit to make it sound more impressive.

The real red herring is the number at the top – $100m on 181 projects. Again, context. A dollar figure is completely useless unless you give us some context. This article in the Press lists infrastructure costs as up to $4 billion – which would mean that only about 1/40th of the job (by monetary value) have been completed in two and half years. Less impressive when you put it that way.

This last one is really ugly and kind of pointless, though I’m not going to argue with it as an info-graphic really. The cordon went up immediately after the quakes because there was an emergency. Then, a few months on, it was up to keep us safe, while they demolished buildings. As the buildings came down, so did the cordon. Many of the buildings that came down were unsafe, many were heritage buildings that could have been saved by a more enlightened dictator. There was another group of buildings that fell into a strange grey area, where they could have probably been fixed if the money (read: the insurance companies) had been right. Whatever happened, they’re gone now. Another way of saying this would be that they’ve demolished 9/10th of a city. Only 1/10th to go!

Final word has to go to Guy Williams, for this fantastic tweet in response to the PM.

Saturday afternoon, Cramner Square. A strange scene, that demonstrated the divides in this broken city. At one side of the park, a collection of fences and signs, part of the operation to ferry people through the CBD, to look at the damage, and the empty spaces. In the middle of the square, a colourful rally of people, for the majority of whom there is more than enough damage at home.


The rally was organised by WeCan, an emerging, activist community organisation. While there were speakers from Labour and the Greens (National and CERA were invited to speak, but declined), the heart and soul of the protest was the Reverend Mike Coleman. After speaking to the crowd in the square, he led the short march down to the CERA headquarters in Worcester Boulevard, where we read an open letter to the people of New Zealand. It touched on the number of sections available for displaced people, the inequity of paying out at rateable value, the numerous issues with insurance. Fairness – or the lack of it – was the theme that ran throughout. WeCan called for the establishment of an Independent Advocacy Commission, who could mediate and resolve disputes between property owners, insurance companies and the EQC.


The letter – which he symbolically hammered into a cross, evoking Martin Luther hammering his 95 theses to the church door – was addressed to all New Zealanders. It is a wake-up call, a reminder that just because Christchurch isn’t on the nightly news, that doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. Given the amount of attention the National Party have given to the problem, one might suspect they wish it just would go away. Though they have “Rebuilding Christchurch” on one of their hoardings, that is about as detailed as their policy gets. Would Brownlee continue in his current role? Would they intervene in the property market to ensure people didn’t lose equity? Would they be prepared to introduce an earthquake levy, or raise taxes, to fund the massive investment in infrastructure that is clearly needed?


If National does form a government on Sunday, then we can expect that they will continue with their largely hands-off management of the recovery. This will see the continuing migration from the city, and within the city – the ghettoisation of the eastern suburbs. The divide between those for whom the earthquakes were a curious inconvenience and those who have lost almost everything will only get wider. As Rev. Coleman says in his letter – there is an elephant in the room at this election, and it is Canterbury.