One always worries a little bit about the elections, but unlike the rest of the world, which seems to have gone off the rails a bit, the New Zealand election promises a great civilized action, no matter who wins.
Unfortunately, there is still an ugly tension lurking under the surface, and in the case of the city I love, it once again falls under the banner of “the housing crisis”. Now I’ve spoken previously about the social contract our council has with us to protect that which is unique and special about Wellington, but the unfortunate crux of the matter is that once again, the council appears to be siding with developers at our expense.
This is particularly disturbing, as one of our local representatives, Paul Eagle, appears to support a massive programme of private gain at public expense. He is also, of course, up for election to Parliament. This is where I’m a little concerned. As far as I can tell (and I welcome his feedback!), he has supported developers’ profits rather than protecting the rights of current residents, all under the guise of “the housing crisis”. If this is an indication as to his philosophy towards government, then I am deeply concerned about his representing us in parliament.
The recent stuff article is particularly illuminating. Firstly, we should always be worried when a government agency like Wellington City Council is doing anything urgently – this is government-speak for “if we do it fast, no one can challenge it”, and a great way of hiding all manner of dodgy dealings.
According to the article, Paul Eagle has supported the establishment of a committee to fast-track decisions about housing. Now on the face of this, it might be a good thing, however, the article notes that the committee is going to be comprised of councillors (good), and “external experts from the taskforce.”
So what is this taskforce they speak of? Well, you can read the report by the taskforce here. It’s comprised of “experts”, most of whom, it appears, are developers or builders, or landowners, with a small spattering of affordable housing advocates. The only representative for locals: Paul Eagle.
The conclusion of the taskforce? More intense housing, reduced amenity, and fast tracking for developments. Sounds like the wish list for big developers’ profit margins.
As to any consultation with the public, well, there’s not much in there about that. In fact, there’s none at all. We just need to trust the developers that they’re going to make wonderful modern housing.
My question to our Councillors (and possibly new member of parliament): it’s nice that you’re thinking about the future, and future residents of your constituency, but what are you doing to help protect my neighbourhood, and my way of life?
I’m already here, and I want to know. Because on the face of it, you appear to be taking our support for granted, and colluding with developers to urbanize everything for a yet-to-appear constituency.
We need affordable housing, but we also need close consultation with the neighbourhoods that you’re intending to change by legislative fiat.
It is not a single sided issue. We are all stakeholders.