Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Next Labour Leader

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  • merc, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    That doesn't mean nobody's responsible, just that it's more likely the responsibility lies in a million small acts of confusion and convenience than in a few acts of calculate villainy.

    I would really hope for better outcomes than these, and hope there is legislation in place to expedite them.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2468 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman,

    I would really hope for better outcomes than these, and hope there is legislation in place to expedite them.

    I'd hope so too, but I doubt it. It's much easier to slap together an ad-hocracy than it is to take it apart or transform it into a solid institution. And governance in Canterbury is practically all ad-hoc now. We don't know when we're going to be permitted to elect eCan again, what the timetable is for dismantling CERA, what the City Council will be in charge of, nor what Gerry Brownlee might choose to change tomorrow. Information about how EQC works is passed around by word of mouth, but no two cases seem to have the same rules.

    It's hard to even know what would be the normal degree of clusterfuckery in a situation like this, and what's exceptional.

    I'm pretty sure we should be electing our regional council, though. I seem to recall that being taken away before the earthquakes.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    is the CRP just crap?

    You’ve suggested that the EQC is “an organisation that suddenly had to do a job it was never designed for”.
    And I meant just that. It’s the kind of mess you get in situations like this.

    I have trouble buying into this scenario - The EQC was set up precisely for this kind of event, smaller and larger, they have had many years to finesse their responses as per their mission statement:

    EQC pays out on claims from New Zealand residential property owners for damage caused by earthquake, natural landslip, volcanic eruption, hydrothermal activity, tsunami; in the case of residential land, a storm or flood; or fire caused by any of these.

    In a time of major disaster, such as a large earthquake, EQC works through its Catastrophe Response Programme (CRP). The CRP sets out how EQC will cope with the substantial increase in resources that will be required at such a time. The programme includes an alternative operations site and the provision of additional staff and equipment.

    EQC also encourages and funds research about matters relevant to natural disaster damage and it educates and otherwise informs people about what can be done to prevent and mitigate damage caused by natural disasters.

    Download and read the 2008/9 Review of EQC's Operational Capability
    in which recommendations are made, like:

    Resources versus timeliness -
    It is recommended that, in relation to expectations regarding the timeliness of settling claims in the aftermath of a large scale event and in the light of a possible evolution in the EQC concept, EQC:
    • establish the timescales around claims processing in a large scale event (80,000+ claims) that could be achieved with current CRP arrangements

    It states that they were aware that:

    The number, nature and scale of disasters that EQC may need to respond to in any year are difficult to predict because:
    • New Zealand is a geologically active country with a long coastline that is subject to a range of natural disasters
    • its population is highly urbanised and concentrated in the main urban centres, especially Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, meaning that moderate events focused on particular centres can potentially generate large numbers of claims...
    The largest event to date has been the Gisborne earthquake of 2007 which generated around 6000 claims. A similar or larger event focused on a large population centre, such as a Wellington earthquake, a volcanic eruption in Auckland or an east coast New Zealand tsunami, could generate tens or hundreds of thousands of claims.

    It was recommended that when:

    Engaging/earmarking additional key personnel that EQC:
    • to assist claims assessment after a large scale event, consider formally engaging a contract structural engineer/adviser to advise when formal engineering assessment is required
    • explore the possibility of tapping the New Zealand retired community for loss adjusters to supplement the staff obtained in Australia by Gallagher Bassett Services
    • consider engaging additional contracted staffing for a large scale event, such as land valuers and additional case managers.

    They knew they would have a big job, they just don't seem to have taken on board a lot of the recommendations - so I don't think the "They weren't designed for this" explanation really holds any water...

    (apologies for length)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4238 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    I think it was taken away before the earthquakes and I really hope that things are going to work out for Christchurch, my wife was from there, her family have been through so much. Everyone has been through so much.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2468 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman,

    They knew they would have a big job, they just don't seem to have taken on board a lot of the recommendations - so I don't think the "They weren't designed for this" explanation really holds any water...

    Fair enough, and thanks. I'm happy to change it to "weren't ready for this" and "probably should have been".

    So that I feel I'm also contributing some data to this discussion instead of abstract opinions, the number of claims is recorded at http://canterbury.eqc.govt.nz/news/progress/statistics
    Currently it's over 400,000. That's more than sixty times the size of the biggest event they'd ever dealt with before, and I'd suspect that the Gisbourne claims tended to be smaller and easier than the Christchurch ones. It's one thing for the Review to say EQC should be prepared for "tens or hundreds of thousands of claims", but quite another for that to be put into practice.

    Ultimately, what I'm concerned about is whether our primary motivation is to deal with the institutional problems, or just to assign blame. They're not mutually exclusive, and both are necessary, but when the mess is this big the temptation is strong to just find a scapegoat and call that a resolution. I don't think that's enough, and perhaps I have a knee-jerk response when I feel that's starting to happen. That doesn't mean I have a Pollyannaish belief that everything is fine, quite the opposite.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    It's part of a wider malaise that increasingly and disproportionally rewards who you know, rather than what you know. A malaise where one increasingly has be born into the old boys' network to make it in life.

    The sky isn't falling in on our heads, but our Transparency Int'l rating might well be.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Ultimately, what I’m concerned about is whether our primary motivation is to deal with the institutional problems, or just to assign blame.

    I really can’t follow you there Isaac. To me the primary concern is that we treat the performance of those who supposedly serve the greater good as a matter of state interest, rather than as the private affairs of a despot. That’s why I raised the earthquake recovery issue in relation to the charter schools thing, as there seems to be little disagreement about that ‘initiative’ being open to deliberate abuse.

    The allegations raised by the Press won’t be decided by online readers’ comments. If that were the case, Arie Smith-Voorkamp would still be in custody. Right now the balls are in the EQC and Verifact Australia’s courts. At least the EQC has responded. Verifact, despite operating their own whistleblower hotline (for entirely commercial purposes) have done nothing to dispel the very real perception that they’re exploiting our misfortune with the kind of rapacity that we'd once assumed to be confined to the third world.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Joe - I can only add +1

    I am so so angry about the way my - very skillled Chchch family- have been treated, cast aside in favour of -outside thingoes

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to merc,

    I think it was taken away before the earthquakes and I really hope that things are going to work out for Christchurch, my wife was from there, her family have been through so much. Everyone has been through so much.

    ECan was most certainly taken away before the quakes, in terms of the councillors being sacked en masse and elections cancelled. That'd be why no-one got to vote for them in October 2010. It was a massive scandal in Christchurch which generated a lot of public debate and anger, and dominated headlines for a long time. But then the quakes happened, and the energy to deal with it was re-directed to more pressing issues, and never, as far as I can tell, came back.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Yes I recall, now Gerry has unlimited powers, this is a scandal but who in a position of power is going to address this?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2468 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I really can’t follow you there Isaac.

    I suspect this might be because you want to hold public servants to account and get institutions working for people again, whereas I want to get institutions working for people again and hold public servants to account.

    That is, I think we're in agreement about the situation, and merely emphasising different aspects of what needs to be done.

    To me the primary concern is that we treat the performance of those who supposedly serve the greater good as a matter of state interest, rather than as the private affairs of a despot.

    I do have a bad habit of taking it as read that I agree with things and writing a "yes and" which sounds like a "yes but". So to be clear, that is an admirably clear statement of a position I am in complete agreement with.

    What I'd add is that in practice we never get a binary distinction between purely selfless public servants and purely selfish despots. Neither do we get perfectly competence or absolute incompetence. When things go wrong, there's liable to be a mix of good intentions, self-interest, honest mistakes, vindictiveness, laziness, inattention, miscommunication and desperation.

    Given that human motivations are complex, I'm wary of a common trap in thinking (mine as much as anybody's): assuming that problems can be solved by identifying a single person responsible and removing them.

    I should add that I'm not accusing you of thinking this way. I just talk and write like a teacher: trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about when I'm figuring it out as I go along. But my self-justification makes boring reading for everybody else, and I feel I've hammered away at this point for long enough.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to merc,

    who in a position of power is going to address this?

    Whoever is held accountable by the public. We've just had an election, and the message to the government is pretty clear.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    I'm wary of a common trap in thinking (mine as much as anybody's): assuming that problems can be solved by identifying a single person responsible and removing them.

    To be fair, I don't see that happening here - though media are taught to always focus stories on individuals. If there's any single person ultimately responsible it's Brownlee, not a son or daughter of some EQC functionary.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Sacha,

    But but their leader says they have a clear mandate...personal responsibility, Gerry? I'll believe that when I see all those politicians give up their pay-rise for the common good this Christmas.
    Dynamic! (plugging my Word Of The Year ;-)

    Since Dec 2006 • 2468 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to merc,

    I’ll believe that when I see all those politicians give up their pay-rise for the common good this Christmas.Dynamic! (plugging my Word Of The Year ;-)

    Phil Goff, said in the last debate with brainfart, “You and I didn’t need tax cuts, John you know that” followed with “Can you live on $13 an hour? You can’t can you” why can’t a low income worker have $15 an hour.They need it”
    Last night I caught up with Dad and he said ” If only people had a chance to hear Phil for 2 more weeks, he would have won. It confirmed my belief that the MSM helped to eliminate him over a long period of time.Once he got air time people warmed to him and the Party .
    As an aside The tea bagging only served to hurt Labour just as they gained traction.
    I bet National were “Relaxed” about that (another suggestion for WOTY) :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5735 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Paula Bennett needs a recount because she LOST!!.
    ( Sofie quietly dancing a jig :))

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5735 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Mojo Mathers becomes an MP.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5735 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    ” If only people had a chance to hear Phil for 2 more weeks, he would have won.

    Sorry, I’d amend that to say, “If only Phil Goff had had taken the chance to say anything of substance/had some policy for the previous three years…”

    The audience has to be receptive. “Brand perception” (an unfortunate concept with politics, but…) seems to be like an oil tanker – it takes a very long time to turn one.

    For Labour’s sake, they need to start being worth listening to immediately after they decide on their new (and Aten, I hope it is new) leader and front trench, with none of their perennial bullshit about “their” voters “coming home” or staging re-enactments of Life of Brian.

    The results for Mathers, Sepuloni, and Bennett all constitute good news however.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 955 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sacha,

    Surely the bigger source of outrage for disadvantaged Canterbury homeonwners is the low level of expertise that EQC seems to require for these pivotal roles.

    EQC tries to justify its total spend on contracted staff.

    Figures obtained by the Sunday Star-Times show the Earthquake Commission spent $144,528,907 on contracted assessors to inspect damage from September 4, 2010, until September 30 this year. The commission said it contracted 814 assessors in that time, 95 from Australia, meaning the $145.5m bill averaged out to more than $177,000 per assessor in just over a year.

    Although the amount includes food, flights and accommodation costs for out-of-town assessors, it was much larger than the standard salary expectation.

    Recruitment company Hays' 2011 salary guide listed the expected salary of an insurance loss assessor in Christchurch or Wellington at between $55,000 to $80,000 a year, with seniors expected to earn $70,000 to $100,000.

    ...

    Commission Canterbury event manager Reid Stiven said the cost of contracted assessors was more than expected because it had been pushed up by the long hours required, and the demand for experienced workers.

    ...

    Stiven said contracted estimators had to be builders with relevant trade qualifications, while contracted assessors "must be a person experienced and competent in communicating effectively and empathetically with a wide range of people, often in stressed situations".

    He said, ideally assessors had backgrounds in loss adjusting, building, real estate or other similar roles, but people from other professions, such as law enforcement, also performed well in the role.

    "One of the most valuable qualifications a prospective assessor can have is prior experience. Many of the assessors brought from outside Christchurch to help with the 160,000 post-February home assessments have experience working in events such as the Gisborne 2007 earthquake. Assessors are paired with an estimator – usually local – when they conduct assessments."

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    You have a better chance of reaching people who haven’t voted for you before, because they’re more likely to share your values than agree with you on every point of policy.

    That's quite insightful Isaac.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Labour's new dynamic leadership duo together with additional sidekick Parker are, to my mind, equally as cringe worthy as their National counterparts.

    Should National's paltry majority coalition govt fall apart will Labour's new dynamic leadership duo prove up to the task of convincing the electorate that they are up for "it".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1157 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson, in reply to DexterX,

    Should National’s paltry majority coalition govt fall apart will Labour’s new dynamic leadership duo prove up to the task of convincing the electorate that they are up for “it”.

    ?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 196 posts Report Reply

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