A timely u-turn

Last updated 13:24 13/01/2012

When I heard that the Christchurch City Council was demanding $350 from families of those killed in the February 2011 earthquake, as the plot fee to be buried in a memorial cemetery, it gave me a flashback to 1998.

In 1998 the National Government was refusing to keep funding Plunket Line. Its reason for doing so was quite sound - it had never funded Plunket Line, and had never agreed to. Plunket had set the line up itself, paid for it, promoted the service and then demanded that the Government fund it in future.

However explaining is losing in politics, and the public just saw this as a case of the mean Shipley Government cutting funding to a cherished and beloved organisation - Plunket.

In the full day caucus meeting held at the beginning of 1999, Saatchi's Kevin Roberts gave a talk to the caucus (and a few of us staff were there also) and basically told the caucus they were bonkers taking on Plunket, regardless of whom was in the right. He said he figured it had pushed National down around 5% in the polls, and pointed out the cost was $500,000, which represents around 0.01% of total government spending.

One moment of hilarity came when he asked if there was a single MP in the room who really cared about $500,000 of government spending in the context of $50 billion of total spending. The caucus dissolved into hysterics when Treasurer Bill Birch slowly lifted his hand up.

This brings us back to Christchurch City Council. Even worse for them is that they had originally promised to waive the fees. They claim it was the interment fee only, not the plot fee - but really who cares.

Someone at the very beginning should have said, wait how much money are we talking about here? $350 x 22 people is around $7,000. In the context of total Council expenditure that is petty cash. How could anyone - whether they be staff or elected, think that for $7,000 you should risk offending the families of those who died in the earthquake.

Sanity eventually prevailed, and Mayor Bob Parker announced the fees will be waived, as promised. It is better late than never, but some damage has been done. This should have been elevated to the Mayor when it first emerged - not after it hits the media.

It is a timely u-turn, but as the Press editorial says, should never have been necessary. The Shipley Government also did a u-turn on Plunket Line also - but again the damage had already been done.

10 comments
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Bill   #1   02:14 pm Jan 13 2012

Why do any of us pay for anything if this is the way public money should be handled? Bring back Birch!

JessL   #2   03:25 pm Jan 13 2012

What a C*ck up from Bob! A "politician" cannot commit themselves to paying for something and then argue over semantics! Just makes them look pathetic. Even if this was sent out in genuine error, someone should have seen the letters and thought twice about it!

Almost as bad as when Jim Anderton said - "" it would take an earthquake for Bob Parker to win. : (

Mike   #3   03:37 pm Jan 13 2012

It reflects the incompetence and arrogance of this parker lead council.

Paulo   #4   04:23 pm Jan 13 2012

Someone's got to pay for the CEO's $70k+ pay rise!!! Shameful CCC

dodg1e   #5   05:19 pm Jan 13 2012

Maybe Marryatt could of coughed up the money after his "well deserved" pay rise

Lou   #6   07:17 am Jan 14 2012

Bill #1, has nobody told you the government doesn't have any money, never had and never will. The only money they have to spend is either yours from taxation or borrowed from the gnomes of Zurich. Birch would have been one of New Zealand's disasters but knighthoods are given out for that sort of performance. The Christchurch city council, the mayor and particularly the CEO have to go. It is completely dysfunctional all you have to do is read The Press to be better informed.

Field Marshall   #7   02:07 pm Jan 15 2012

The Shipley Government was short sighted as at that time they stood for smaller government.National still does.

And the best way to get smaller government is to return the citizens to their institutions of family, Marriage, private ownership, Societys and Charitys.

The reach of government into Charitys, Societys, Marriage and Family by ever increasing grants, payments, subsidies, regulations & bureaucratic oversight is something National shouldn't stand for as it can only ever grow governments reach & the size of government.

As I said in your '2012 predictions' blog David - "The NZ Conservatives will plonk themselves down right about where Winston is."

The reason for that is because the votes are there to be taken from Labour & the Greens - people who want better lives.

But that can only EVER be achieved by having better personal virtues & values.And the government can't deliver that.How can you make people respect themselves ? You can't - which means the Left don't truely care when all they do is excuse poor behaviour.

And Labour & the Greens can't ever deliver that as their ideaology is about reliance on others - something that can never be fulfilling to the individual !

And that is why Left commentators are suggesting that ACT & the Conservatives are a good fit - so that Conservatives can then be labelled - right wingers, extremists & Religious nutters.

The Left is very afraid - as the statistics from their 30yr reign in policy settings shows up nothing but debauchery - the acceptance of low personal values and the common acceptance of poor personal character in others.

Policy settings are already going back to what the western democracies were built upon - maintainance of the normal !

Sailor Sam   #8   07:34 am Jan 16 2012

THis sort of governmental/council attitude is prevalent because the people in these organisations, elected by us and seen as our leaders, are often not leaders at all, but just followers of party lines. They make errors and then are to stupid to realise that. We can see one of the worst example of that in power now - John Key. Lets go back to Pike River - John Key made the unqualified statement that the men's bodies would be retrieved from the mine, no excuses, no ifs or buts. Then he just let things drag on ad-infinitum, it is now 15 months since he said that. A true leader would have been knocking heads to gether till the bodies were retrieved. His public inaction over the Rena is another example. He should have gone on radio and TV, immediately after the videotaped "apology" from the Greek owners and demanded that the CEO of Costamare come to NZ and get his shiny silk suit dirty cleaning up his own oil. He would not have come, but the PR value to John Key would have been such that he could have won the election with a much bigger margin. These above examples, especially the Rena, meant that I did not vote National, after a lifetime of doing so. John Key was the sole reason. We suffer from a lack of leadership in NZ, our so called political leaders are often not leaders at all, they are re-active leaders, not pro-active. The effect is that they are not leaders at all.

fmacskasy.wordpress.com   #9   05:04 pm Jan 16 2012

JessL #2 - "Almost as bad as when Jim Anderton said - "" it would take an earthquake for Bob Parker to win. "

Except, Jess, Anderton never said it. That's an urban myth you're spreading.

johnbt   #10   11:19 am Jan 17 2012

Bring back the Birch. A politician who understood that if you look after the pennies the pounds look after themselves. That is why he left an economy in surplus and with growth. Unlike that economic vandal Cullen.

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