National fails Christchurch | The Jackal

29 Jan 2013

National fails Christchurch

Today, Stuff reported:

Horror stories of Christchurch families living in garages and tents continue to surface almost two years on from the February 2011 earthquake.

Some families are still stranded in sheds or illegally overcrowding friends' and relatives' houses.

Meanwhile, rental housing prices show no sign of abating and welfare agencies believe this year could be worse than the last.

Demand on Christchurch's social services continues to increase: people who have never needed help before are queuing up at food banks and many families still face impoverished living conditions.

National has clearly failed to meet the basic needs of those impacted by the devastating Christchurch earthquakes. Instead of mobilizing government resources to help, National appears to be happy to sit back and let people fend for themselves.

Such a hands off approach might be OK if there wasn't such widespread damage, but with another winter soon approaching it's clearly not good enough to leave families living in tents almost two years after the disaster.

One of his social workers had a week-long waiting list of families needing assistance with school uniform grants. Another had recently been supporting a young family living in a tent, and a couple renting a washhouse.

A desperate woman with a newborn baby emailed Gorman last week asking for any free food because she said she was "paying so much rent, I can't afford to live".

"We are seeing many, many new people. Some who may actually own property but are so stretched by having to be out of their houses and pay horrific rents," he said.

So things are getting worse not better in what is a shameful display of government incompetence! If National can't get their act together within two years to rehouse and ensure people's basic needs are being met in Christchurch, they obviously don't have what it takes to run the country.

Pacific Island Evaluation social worker To'alepai Louella Thomsen-Inder said:

"Some homes have no curtains, babies are crawling around on rotting carpet, it's damp and the children are running around with no shoes on and with visible skin conditions."

Tenants Protection Association manager Helen Gatonyi believes this year is "shaping up to be the worst".

"When winter strikes this year, we predict it's going to be very difficult for a large number of people."

Completely unacceptable! National is in fact failing to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which New Zealand ratified in 1973. The right to housing is considered a right to an adequate standard of living, with Article 25 stating:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Therefore National is in breach of its international obligations as well as its social obligation to the inhabitants of Christchurch. So what is John Key's government doing about the problem?

The Government's investigation into overcrowding, homelessness and unsuitable living conditions in Christchurch was kick-started in June last year, but the results are yet to be released.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had hoped to have the report finalised by the end of last year.

A spokeswoman said the release had been pushed back to ensure the information was correct and the report "robust".

The delay is likely to be caused by a request from Gerry Brownlee to heavily redact the reports. The Canterbury Earthquake "Recovery" Minister wouldn't want the serious nature of his callous indifference to become publicly known.

National can only hope to downplay the issue, because if the truth fully came out their complete failure would cause a huge public backlash. Such needless suffering is something most New Zealanders wouldn't accept.

Clearly Nationals neoliberal agenda and every man for himself ideology is not up to the task of rebuilding Christchurch, and one can only assume that a Labour led government would have done a lot better.