That the bureaucrats heading CERA will be paid over $1000 a day, while families in Christchurch are struggling to survive, is a disgusting and unjust move typical of the farce that is the Christchurch earthquake recovery. Once again those in power profit from our misery. Once again those in power abuse their positions for private gain. And once again, it is we, the people on the ground, who suffer.

Documents published on the No Right Turn blogsite this week showed Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee sought approval from Cabinet on April 11 for the appointments of former senior High Court judge Sir John Hansen as chairman of the review panel at $1400 a day, and Shipley, former Ngai Tahu chief executive Anake Goodall and former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry chief executive Murray Sherwin, at $1000 a day.

Yet on Monday, The Press revealed the Government has denied 50 grieving families of Christchurch earthquake victims government funding for legal representation at royal commission hearings.

If this wasn’t so wrong we’d laugh. But this is no laughing matter for those without heating, roofs over their heads, or a place to live.

Let’s do some maths. CERA moguls will receive around $1000 a day. That’s $5000 for a weeks worth of sitting around in meetings and passing down orders to the real workers who do the hard graf. Yet the workers involved in carrying out their orders are getting low-to-middle wage rates. For example, Fletchers pay construction workers around $20 an hour, but charge them out at $60.

Compare CERA’s wages to the rest of us. The typical student or beneficiary receives $300 to $500 a week. A WEEK. Not to mention workers on the minimum wage (or near it).

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something is seriously wrong with this picture.

What we are witnessing is disaster capitalism at it’s very best (for them at least). Disaster capitalism is where those in power and their friends in business (ie Fletchers) actually profit from a disaster, by controlling and exploiting the rebuild process. It happened after Hurricane Katrina and throughout the Iraq Wars. It’s happening here, at our expense.

The justification for these fantastical wage rates will be the ‘difficult and important nature of managing the rebuild process’. Yet their management has been appalling, slow, bureaucratic and wasteful.

The rebuild isn’t working. CERA isn’t working. Capitalism isn’t working. It may be for those at the top, or for the residents of Merivale (whose houses and businesses are already being rebuilt while homes in the East lie decrepit), but for the rest of us Christchurch has become the city of exploitation and extortion—a city in which we have no choice but to stick it out and struggle.

And it is militant struggle we need, now more than ever.