The going gets tough and Sideshow Bob goes missing.
The select committee hearing on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill heard submissions yesterday but Sideshow Bob decided not to turn up. He sent the Deputy Mayor, Ngaire Button, instead.
The Recovery Bill gives the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) unprecedented powers with the Earthquake Recovery Minister, the unpopular Gerry Brownlee, pulling all the levers. Such are his powers he can override any decisions that CERA makes.
It is this top-down authoritarian structure that is expected to prevail in Christchurch for the next five years.
The powers that Brownlee has at his disposal, effectively deny the democratic rights of local Christchurch people.
CERA could, and probably will, declare entire suburbs to be 'uninhabitable ' and neither the Christchurch City Council or the local community, could do anything about it. People, faced with their home being demolished, simply have to do what they are told.
Such are Brownlee's powers he can suspend or amend any law without going through parliament, as long as he 'promises' to only use it in relation to the earthquake recovery. There is no justification for giving any politician the ability to bypass parliament.
Dean Knight, a lecturer in law at the University of Victoria has commented:
"I acknowledge the gravity of the task facing Christchurch and other districts. The recovery and rebuilding project is a massive one, one that is probably beyond the capacity of present local authorities and other agencies. I accept therefore that central government involvement is essential. However, I question the top-down, rather than bottom-up, model that has been adopted. ... The legislative scheme does not build in the usual elements of local democracy and community participation that is traditionally seen and expected in legislation dealing with town planning and management of local resources."
At the submissions hearing , Ngaire Button, expressed concern about the 'extensive powers' that CERA was being given and appealed that the council be given a substantial role in the rebuilding of Christchurdh
There's, frankly, fat chance of that happening
It's inevitable that this authoritarian legislation will be used to prioritise the interests of capital over the interests of ordinary folk. Christchurch business interests are uniformly in support of this legislation.
It's disappointing but not surprising that the Labour Party did not vote against the Rcovery Bill. Indeed Labour MP for Christchurch East, Lianne Dalziel, has justified the legislation because of the Christchurch City Council's failure to deal with the September quake. She, and Labour, seem quite willing to expose local people to the machinations of CERA and Brownlee.
Sideshow Bob's failure to show up at the select committee meeting, once again, highlights that he is a 'captured politician', beholden to his political masters in Wellington and business interests in Christchurch.