The Government is imposing a new economic order on Christchurch - one that includes a  giant transfer of wealth to the already wealthy. What has Sideshow Bob got to say about it? Nothing.

September 4, of course, marked the day when, two years ago, Christchurch was hit by the first of  a series of devastating earthquakes.  The media did the predictable news stories and interviews to mark the occasion and, as a consequence, Mayor Sideshow Bob has been all over the media  - television, print, radio, internet.

Of course we are talking Sideshow Bob, a lacklustre and ineffectual  mayor whose own  high opinion of his abilities aren't shared by most of Christchurch. This is mayor who has disgracefully refused to defend the interests of people living in the eastern  suburbs in favour of snuggling up to Earthquake Recovery minister  Gerry Brownlee.

On TVNZ's  six o'clock news show Sideshow Bob was asked why it was taking so long to do things like repair  people's damaged houses.

Bob's reply was along the lines  of ' Yes, things aren't going as fast as we would like. We would  all like to see things moving quicker. Yes, it is very frustrating.'

He made it sound as if no one was at fault, especially not the Key Government.  It's just a natural phenomena undisturbed by human input. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west and people live in damaged houses and get screwed over by insurance companies and landlords.  That's just the way it is. There's nothing we can do about it. So I'll just go holiday with the wife, okay?

If we had even a half decent television news service  the glib Bob would not of been allowed to get away with this dismal defence of the Key Government  but get away with it he did.

A few days earlier, on a lousy panel discussion on  Newstalk ZB, Bob ventured the opinion that Christchurch people might have their 'differences' but we were all 'united'  in the common cause to rebuild Christchurch.  Bob made it sound  that any disagreements were  inconsequential  to 'the big picture'.

While Sideshow was having a none too subtle dig at the Government's  detractors he did speak some sense - but not in the way he intended.

The interests of the eastern  suburbs have indeed been  largely deemed inconsequential to 'the big picture' - the rebuilding  and reconfiguring of the local economy.

As local capitalism is reshaped by neoliberal forces  anything on the periphery to this project has been given low priority.

The Government is overseeing this new realignment with the compulsory acquisition of central city land which will  benefit the large investors  and the property developers.

Over 800 property owners have been served with letters of acquisition by the  Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).  Roger Sutton of CERA   has described the plan for the central city as 'unbelievably exciting'. This is  certainly not the view of  local business interests  who think they are being asset stripped in favour of  a new corporatism.

And while the Government overseas the imposition of the neoliberal economic model on Christchurch, the Eastside  has been left exposed to the ravages of 'market forces'  and you don't have to look too hard for evidence;

Petrina Galvin of Richmond says her neighbourhood is falling into 'disrepair'. She says the road are 'a complete mess.'

' I  have  made calls and asked for someone  to come and fix up these roads.  I  am  not demanding that it be done immediately, but some  communication would be nice.'

Ms Galvin is being too kind - after two years  of inaction she has every right to demand that the roads be fixed immediately.

And  community organisations in the eastern suburbs  have been asking for months when the many state houses will be repaired. In Aranui alone there are over one hundred state houses that are empty, awaiting repairs.  Just a short walk from my house in Shirley there is almost  an entire street of empty state houses.

Meanwhile Gerry Brownlee has consistently ignored calls to do something about the escalating rents in Christchurch, declaring that 'the market' would  sort it out and determine what a 'fair rent' is. . He has simply  disregarded  the overwhelming evidence that there is a housing crisis in the eastern suburbs.

In stark contrast Brownlee and his government  haven't  hesitated to intervene in the commercial property market. 

What are we witnessing is the transfer of wealth to the already wealthy.

It will be interesting to see when the Government decides its opportune to sell the assets of the Christchurch City Council.


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