Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: Rebuilding Christchurch

Current Christchurch mayor Bob Parker and his council are awaiting Gerry Brownlee's (above) decision regarding the CBD earthquake recovery plan. Photo / Greg Bowker
Current Christchurch mayor Bob Parker and his council are awaiting Gerry Brownlee's (above) decision regarding the CBD earthquake recovery plan. Photo / Greg Bowker

Who will really be running the Christchurch rebuild after tomorrow? Even Mayor Bob Parker isn't sure, according to John Hartevelt and Charlie Gates (see: Christchurch mayor in dark over city plan) as his council waits to see what 'King Gerry' has decided regarding the CBD recovery plan. Parker says he is 'comfortable' with the process, but Labour MP (and potential future Mayoral candidate) Lianne Dalziel claims the Government has discussed taking control, and she says CERA's role should not be expanded - see: Uncertainty surrounds Chch rebuild plan. Radio New Zealand reports that Brownlee will put in place a government appointee to lead the plan - currently a council role (see: Bob Parker confident Govt will back council).

Even if it loses the leading role in the CBD rebuild, there are plenty of pressing issues for Parker and the council. The Mayor already seems to be backtracking on the planned 60% rates level for red-stickered buildings after much criticism over the past few days. The Press editorial sums up objections about the inequities of the proposed plan - see: Rates equity needed.

With pressure for rates relief building, Council spending will also be under scrutiny. Former mayor Gary Moore knows where $240,000 can be saved - see: Cash sought for cardboard cathedral. He makes the point that the previous annual grant to the Anglican Church to help with the Cathedral running costs was based on a partnership between the church and the city. He says the relationship has clearly changed with disagreement over the fate of the damaged cathedral: 'I think the bishop (Victoria Matthews) has shown she has absolutely no interest in being in partnership with the city'.

The Cantabrians United group is keeping up the pressure on the council announcing plans for a second protest on 6 May and are repeating their demands for fresh elections and the removal of Chief Executive Tony Marryatt - see Sam Sachdeva's Second Christchurch council protest planned.

Despite dissatisfaction with the Council, Chris Trotter is warning that they are at least a democratically controlled organisation, and the Government has effectively handed over the rebuild to the insurance companies. He says Cantabrians are rapidly losing trust in the authorities and that this perception means the government is in 'big trouble' over their handling of the situation in Christchurch - see: Tell the people who controls elusive rebuild.

With the Crafar farms recommendation sitting on Ministerial desks awaiting a decision, the Greens are claiming that the visit by senior Chinese leader Jia Qinglin and Mr Jia's Fairfax opinion piece are attempts to pressure the government over the sale and to relax overseas investment regulations - see: Audrey Young's China laying down 'clear challenge' to NZ sovereignty - Greens. The Herald editorial takes the Greens to task saying that investment should not be seen as a threat but rather a two-way street that benefits both China and New Zealand - see: China 'threat' far removed from reality.

This week has seen the sequel published to the 1976 landmark book, 'The Passionless People'. Updated and revised by Gordon McLauchlan, the new version appears to be even more critical of New Zealand society than the original - which you can read about in Diana Dekker's Gordon McLauchlan produces Passionless People sequel. McLauchlan says the country is just as conformist as it was in the 1970s, but that social indicators have worsened and politics is in an even more unhealthy state. This is epitomised, McLauchlan says, by John Key who is 'the ultimate refinement of the passionless person'. Politics and politicians in general don't reflect New Zealand, and MPs are now 'essentially middle class or upper-middle class with a sense of entitlement'. Literature in New Zealand no longer relates to 'real life' and serious social problems, but instead just to 'middle-class angst'. Changes in Maoridom are also lamented, with iwi leaders being 'seduced' into a corporate model while statistics indicating social disadvantage 'have worsened since the 1970s'. In fact the decline of wealth and equality in the country is viewed by McLauchlan has having a lot to do with the decline of the unions. See also the interview features by Andrew Stone in the Herald (Another kick in the pants for New Zealand's 'smiling zombies'; and Karyn Scherer in the Listener Interview: Gordon McLauchlan).

Other important or interesting political items today include:

* There are two useful opinion pieces today about the need for greater attention to lobbying - see Sue Kedgley's Let's lift the lid on covert world of political lobbying and Duncan Garner's Name the lobbyists Lockwood. While Kedgley gives a background to backup the Green Party proposed legislation, Garner focuses on an area that is missing from the Greens bill, but is probably more crucial: the lack of transparency within Parliament over which lobbyists have parliamentary swipe cards, and why Parliamentarians are exempt from the Official Information Act.

* On economic matters, there are some very thoughtful and/or interesting analyses today from Colin James (No return to the old 'ordinary'), David Farrar (Government Expenditure), Ruth Richardson (Policy settings need seismic shift) and Richard Long (Time for parties to back up claims).

* One of the more interesting MPs to come into Parliament is New Zealand First's Richard Prosser, and Toby Manhire explains The world according to Richard Prosser, linking to his now-infamous parliamentary speech: New Zealand MP identifies Finland as a military threat.

- NZ Herald

Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

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