Nick Smith's announcement last month that the Government intends to build 700 new state houses in Christchurch by 2015 shamefully received uncritical support from the media and the Labour Party.
The Minister for Housing got to wax lyrical about his 700 new houses, declaring that it was 'biggest government house building programme in Christchurch's history' and not a dissenting voice could be heard. Nick Smith, thanks to a docile media and equally docile Labour Party, got to portray himself as man bearing gifts for the people of Christchurch. In fact, he delivered something a whole lot more unpleasant.
But Chris Lynch, the host of Newstalk ZB's morning show in Christchurch, was entirely enthusiastic about the government's announcement. He suggested to his guests on his regular panel discussion show that 'there is nothing to complain about here.' One of his guests, Lianne Dalziel MP, responded that 'it was a start'.
Indeed Labour's only criticism has been that it has doubts about the government being able to build 700 houses in two years.
Smith made his announcement to the assembled media at a building site in Wilding Street in St Martins Here they have demolished one state house and are now building three small and cheap two bedroom boxes on the site. The occupants will be living on top of each other. No garden areas are being provided. Privacy will be difficult.
Despite this 'urban intensification' there have been no new provisions made for new community areas such as parks and playgrounds.
But Smith says building multiple houses on single sections is being done deliberately.He says this is 'making better use of the land and building a lot more homes.'
He may deny it but what he is really doing is creating new urban ghettoes
And the other nasty twist in the tail that both the media and the Labour Party have blithely ignored is that Smith intends to sell many of these new state houses to 'social housing providers'.
Smith's goal is to reduce the government's commitment to state housing by handing over the houses to private charities. They will be under no obligation to provide income - related rents and tenants will find themselves being forced to pay market rents.
There is no plan for sustainable housing in Christchurch and in New Zealand - and that is something to complain and protest about.