Christchurch City’s Earthquake Gauleiter Gerry Brownlee has been a bigger disaster for the city than the quake. Instead of enabling investors and property owners to do their own rebuilding, since Day One he has squatted over them all and stamped down any signs of entrepreneurial breakout. He has simply refused to learn the lesson that cities only grow and flourish because of private energy and investment, and the post-disaster lesson heard from around the world: that public inertia and uncertainty kills private effort and investment – that handing a city over to self-declared experts is the best way to kill it, whereas taking a city off welfare and making it an enterprise zone allows it to rebuild. And fast. (Unlike here.)
No wonder then that, more than five years on, recovery is still a dirty word.
Brownlee’s busybody “plan” for the city was to throw taxpayers’ money into government “anchor projects” in order to suck in private investment. Yesterday’s announcement that “progress” is finally being seen in building his much-delayed new convention centre, progress that will cost the taxpayer around $300 million plus cockups and without any private involvement whatsoever – a pig in the middle of a big empty carpark -- tells you once more how well that strategy is going. As a fellow twitterer sagely observed:
This is a man who could make a pig’s breakfast out of a private drinking party.
A walking disaster.
He should resign, along the the policy he walked in on.