The Earthquake Commission is reaping the consequences of its own incompetence and inertia.
While the government and its political allies in Christchurch continue to pitch to the nation that its all going swimmingly well in Christchurch, unfortunately for them the facts continue to upset their fiction.
Barely a few days after The Press was reporting that there was no housing crisis in the eastern suburbs, this particular fairy tale was exploded by news that the hostility between the Earthquake Commission and the good people of Christchurch had escalated to the point that the EQC had initiated new security measures; it has increased the size of the prison-like fences around the twenty EQC hubs and the public counters have been made higher 'so people can't jump over them so easily'. What next? Windows or wire grills between EQC staff and members of the public? A quick fondle by security staff at the entrance before being allowed to enter?
These confrontations are not new and we can now consider that we have now reached a stage where the victims are going to be cast as criminals by those who seek to profit from Christchurch's misfortune. Disaster capitalism demands that they can only be one winner and it isn't the people of Christchurch.
These EQC hubs do look like fortresses. They are fortified government outposts in the 'badlands' of the eastern suburbs. You can easily imagine Gerry Brownlee or Bob Parker being helicoptered in to inspect the troops.
It comes as no surprise that the Christchurch police have been quietly increasing their presence in the eastern suburbs and will be the first police in the country to be wearing tasers on their belts.
This is the escalation of a conflict that, at the coalface, has been provoked by the incompetence, the corruption and the arrogance of the EQC.
We have certainly come a long way from the community 'pop-up picnics' of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery chief, Roger Sutton. Although this has failed to register with Mayor Bob Parker who appears to be living on the planet 'I'm A Rich Git' when he advocates such lunacy as a $20 tax on the embattled people of Christchurch just to build a cycleway.
Last year EQC staff were having their photos and names posted on the internet with the warning that they should be denied access to anyone's property. The site alleged that this 'rogues gallery' of EQC engineers were telling people that their quake damage was pre-existing, when home-owners knew it was not true.
We have moved on from that to a growing number of physical confrontations between EQC staff and homeowners who are under considerable stress and who have simply run out of patience with an intransigent EQC.
According to the EQC some behaviour has forced staff out because 'customer interaction had become unbearable'.
If the EQC thinks it will receive sympathy from people in the eastern suburbs and elsewhere then it is going to be sorely disappointed. Any community goodwill toward the EQC has long since evaporated.
With another winter approaching, the government would be very foolish not to recognise that the confrontations will continue to escalate.
But this is a government has allowed this situation to worsen, month after month.
It has deliberately cut local communities out of the rebuild process who rightly believe they are being sacrificed so that government can focus on reconfiguring central Christchurch in the interests of vested property and financial interests, most of whom are allies of the National Party.
Gerry Brownlee, Roger Sutton and Mayor Bob Parker have left the people of the eastern suburbs to fend for themselves while they have canoodled with property developers about over-sized sports stadiums, too-big retail complexes and bloated convention centres. None of which the people of Christchurch have agreed to.
As well the EQC is an organisation riddled with incompetence and corruption. But, as Sarah Miles has pointed out, Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson has received a pay rise of about $70,000 in the past year.
This is in despite of the fact that Simpson has been in charge of an organisation that has hired untrained people who have done what have been simply inept and inaccurate assessments of quake-damaged homes. He has been in charge of an organisation that has hired the sons and daughters of EQC staff for no other reason than they are the son and daughters of EQC staff.
Despite EQC's abject failure the Minister for Recovery, Gerry Brownlee , has sat on his hands and done nothing. Worse than that he has flatly denied that there is an escalating social and economic crisis in the eastern suburbs. So why the fortified EQC outposts?
Graphic: Porcupine Farm