According to CERA's Roger Sutton, it is important to have the people of Christchurch behind the rebuild project. Sutton's behaviour though has amply demonstrated that he represents the interests of the big corporations and the property developers. The disaster capitalists are out there doing everything they can to ensure that they’re the ones who get the biggest slice of the pie - and the people of Christchurch will be expected to foot the bill. With 'friends' like Roger, who needs enemies?
While the usual suspects have been praising the grand plan for the rebuild of central Christchurch there has been far less enthusiasm within the local Christchurch community.
This is not surprising. Having contributed their ideas to the Christchurch City Council's draft central city plan, that plan was then scuttled behind closed doors by the disaster capitalists (such as Ngai Tahu Property) with the active assistance of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). It starkly told the Council that the draft city plan was unacceptable.
Instead a new corporate-conceived plan was foisted on the people of Christchurch by CERA's Central City Development Unit. It was praised to the skies by the very people who had a substantial hand in developing it in the first place.
The exception was our good mate Mayor Bob Parker who, once again, betrayed the people who pay his inflated salary by praising the plan. He simply turned a blind eye to the cold fact the Council's own draft plan had been dumped. It was another dismal episode of a mayoralty that has been disastrous for Christchurch.
How the city will be rebuilt, where the resources will go, who will profit from them and how they will affect communities around the city - these decisions have been made and are still being made by a small group of people representing the interests of a small group of people.
The mainstream media has largely decided to ignore this. Far too often it has been the uncritical cheerleader for corporate- inspired propaganda about Christchurch's 'exciting future', that 'we're all in this together', the 'Canterbury spirit' and other PR spin.
The disaster capitalists -like Ngai Tahu Property - are vultures circling over Christchurch, hoping to use this period of crisis to replace Christchurch's distinctive character with the fancy shopping complexes and the luxury hotels they’ve always wanted.
It is a monumentally and wildly extravagant plan that might garner big profits for the disaster capitalists but it will leave the people of Christchurch with the big bills that an already impoverished people simply cannot accommodate.
Property will inevitably be seized to build over-sized civic edifices inappropriate for a city of just 350,000. These follies of neoliberalism will be financial burdens on the people of Christchurch for years to come - long after the disaster capitalists have grabbed the profits and disappeared over the horizon.
In stark contrast, the good people of Christchurch, through the 'Share An Idea' campaign, came up with more sensible and more modest proposals. But this was the plan that CERA chief Roger Sutton, the complaint spokesperson for the disaster capitalists, described as unacceptable.
In a formal letter to Mayor Bob Parker on 13 October Sutton wrote that the council plan was not acceptable to the Government because it did 'not represent the requirements or aspirations of commercial property owners or investors'.
This is the same Roger Sutton - like his master Gerry Brownlee - who can often be heard opining that it is important to get the people of Christchurch behind the rebuild project. Sutton - also like Brownlee - speaks with a forked tongue.
When former mayor Garry Moore attacked the lack of democracy and the deliberate sidelining of community involvement in the rebuild project, Sutton's response was to tell Moore to 'get real'.
He went on to say, again echoing Brownlee, that someone had to 'dictate' the path of the recovery . And no prizes for guessing that 'someone' are the disaster capitalists - the people who Sutton spends his time with.
While the Christchurch City Council has effectively been disempowered, at least councillors like Glen Livingstone, Yani Johanson and Peter Beck have been speaking out in what are often impossible circumstances.
This is in stark contrast to Mayor Parker and his supporters on council like Barry Corbett and Sue Wells.
Having shamefully countenanced the dumping of the Council's own draft city plan he has had little to say other than to bemoan that Christchurch is in danger of becoming a vast retirement centre but still describing CERA's plan as 'desirable'. Sideshow Bob's tale is one with no sound and fury but still told by an idiot, signifying nothing.
Parker is someone who is acutely aware of historical judgement and he wants to be seen as a heroic figure who worked hard for Christchurch. The truth is he has failed the people of Christchurch by his craven cheerleading for the National Government. In Christchurch's time of need he has instead helped to open the door to the city and welcomed in the disaster capitalists to pillage the local economy.
The disaster capitalists are out there doing everything they can to ensure that they’re the ones who get the biggest slice of the pie - and the people of Christchurch will be expected to foot the bill.
The only force that prevent this from happening is the people of Christchurch. The real path to recovery lies in the good people of Christchurch taking control of their own city.
If you want your power to be turned back on, sometimes you’ve got to take it back from the people who turned it off in the first place.
Photo credit: Assorted Goodies