The Minister for Earthquake Recovery, Lord Gerry Brownlee, decided that he'd stick his nose into the affairs of the Christchurch City Council this week. After all, his right hand man, Roger Sutton, was banning protests in the central city (and breaching the Bill of Rights in the process) so why shouldn't he, Lord and Master Over All Living Things, tell the council how it should be conducting itself?
Brownlee lashed out at the Christchurch for its slowness in repairing its social housing stock.
This attack is more than a little ironic given that Brownlee is a representative of a government that is driven by neoliberal ideology. Brownlee's sudden championing of the Council's social housing stock is more than a little suspicious - especially since he has also consistently denied that there is a housing crisis in Christchurch.
Brownlee, seeking maximum publicity, released a press statement titled 'Social Housing is Council's Shame'. Brownlee laid into Cr Yani Johanson, who oversees social housing, saying it might be time he was 'relieved of this burden''.
Brownlee was clearly blowing smoke and seeking to scapegoat a councillor who has consistently opposed the government's undemocratic and bureaucratic top-down approach to the rebuild process.
He may of also been upset that Yohanson moved a motion at the Council's Thursday meeting to act on resolution passed by the Council on 12 July 2012 which stated that “That staff urgently report back on possible options/solutions for an independent, non-profit, expert insurance advocacy service within Christchurch. and 'That as part of this report Council request staff to consider funding of up to $200,000 from the Christchurch Earthquake Mayoral Relief Fund towards the establishment of such a service or similar.
Despite the fact that the original resolution was passed last July, council staff have admitted that they haven't yet got round to doing any work on the issue. Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt has clearly made no effort to get his staff to get on with the job.
Cr Tim Carter said this week: "We can sit and blame staff for not acting on our resolution, we can blame Cera for its inaction ... or we can be proactive and show leadership. It is time for us to take control and fund the advocacy service.'
The Christchurch City Council wrote to Brownlee last year on a proposed advocacy service but Brownlee has also done nothing.
Brownlee is seeking to distract attention from his own ineptness in the area of housing,
Not only has he denied that there is housing crisis in Christchurch but he has failed to do anything about a rental market that is out of control, with landlords demanding exorbitant rents for, in some cases substandard services. Christchurch social services have all told Brownlee that poverty is on the increase in the eastern suburbs. Many people are seeing a large chunk of their incomes being swallowed up by rocketing rents.
And where is Mayor Parker while all this happening? He was in Seattle in January and this week he has been in South Korea, visiting Christchurch's sister city Songpa-Gu. He and the wife are now in Kurashiki, Japan, another one of Christchurch's sister cities.
Despite the fact that Christchurch City Council has been unable to quantify the 'economic benefits' to Christchurch of Sideshow Bob's overseas jaunts, Bob has remained committed to his extensive holiday schedule.
Graphic: Porcupine Farm