Purpose of this Website
The protest of 1 February 2012 with around 4,000 attending, sparked by the No Pay Rise For Tony Marryatt campaign facilitated by Peter Lynch with the valued assistance of Rev Mike Coleman, illustrated the depth of public dissatisfaction with the Christchurch City Council’s performance and the failures of the “top down” approach to the earthquakes recovery and rebuild.
While the “top down” approach failures go beyond it and the “Marryatt pay rise affair” was the trigger for the protest, the core problem is the Christchurch City Council – and specifically it’s structure.
These problems started however over 20 years ago, from the time of forced Local Government amalgamation during the late 1980’s. As the bureaucracy expanded through these years, it increasingly dominated and corrupted the political and commercial culture of Christchurch.
In development and construction terms, Christchurch was already on its knees prior to the 4 September 2010 earthquake events.
Christchurch City Council - Quick Facts
Housing had been “moderately unaffordable” prior to the short speculative frenzy between 2002 through 2007, when the unnecessary bubble deflated, deflating the local economy with it. Today housing is rated “severely unaffordable” at 6.3 times household earnings, as this year’s 8th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey (refer Schedule 2 Page 33) clearly illustrates. A normal market should not exceed 3 times annual household earnings.
Affordable housing is a basic human right of course. The recovery cannot start, until the Authorities stop protecting incompetent Local Government and special interests, and allow affordable new housing to be supplied.
While some were aware of these problems through the years and people such as Hugh Pavetich wrote extensively about them, it took the earthquake events starting 4 September for the media, business and increasing numbers of citizens to recognise that the “centralized bureaucracy” is the core problem.
Within a recent The Press Opinion True Engagement Key To Rebuild, former Christchurch Central Labour MP Brendon Burns had this to say –
“For a city to best recover from its seismic nightmare, the process of decision-making needs to be inverted to truly empower communities. Such a radical change is very difficult to accept for anyone – of any political persuasion – who happen to be in power.”
“To date, the required response has been tokenistic. A top-down command and control system may be appropriate in the days after a disaster but not in a recovery which will take years. Among the ultimate victims will be those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk when it comes to true community engagement. Just look at the Christchurch City Council.”
There is a time for learning (in this case the hard way) and protest.
Now is the time for workable and pragmatic solutions and action.
None of this is a mystery or difficult to comprehend.
One only has to observe the capacity to respond of the adjoining much smaller (population’s each around 40,000) Counties of Selwyn and Waimakariri, where during 2011 on a population basis, there has been five and six times the volume of new housing built, in comparison with Christchurch. Christchurch appallingly failed to build at a normal market replacement level through that year – and nowhere near what is required for a recovery.
Christchurch, with its bloated and incapacitated Council and rigidities and excesses of its planning is currently being “hollowed out”, as people and businesses flee to these adjoining Counties and elsewhere throughout New Zealand and Australia – unnecessarily.
Peoples preferences always trump policy – and poor quality governance.
The purpose of this website Cantabrians Unite is to provide a “place” where the four clear and focused objectives can be constructively and competently discussed, researched and refined.
Most importantly – Cantabrians Unite should be seen as a “meeting place” for those who understand the critical importance of these objectives. Those who are prepared to walk the walk (not just talk the talk) and play their part in participating in the democratic process – whether it be contributing constructive ideas, providing financial and other assistance and standing for elected office under the Cantabrians Unite banner.
These changes must happen if Christchurch is to recover.
Indeed – if they do – Christchurch will become THE most dynamic opportunity City of New Zealand and Australia within five years.
Hugh Pavletich and Peter Lynch