Community Scoop

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 123

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) to keep people in their electorates and …Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 123

A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.
Labour will:

    * Purchase 1500 properties and sell them at cost to red zoned residents
    * Ring-fence $100 million as compensation for home improvements
    * Release all available geotechnical information
    * Resolve the insurance gridlock
    * Intervene in the insurance market as a last resort
    * Make community engagement a priority
    * Use youth unemployment to fill the skills gap
    * Establish an independent insurance commissioner.

For full policy details go to:

CLAYTON COSGROVE : The number of disputes coming across my desk from constituents challenging insurance company processes and the value of their repair costs is growing substantially. One of the worst cases I heard of recently was a constituent whose rebuild cost had been under estimated by his insurance company. The client was not happy with the proposed dollar amount so employed a quantity surveyor who reassessed the proposed cost of the rebuild. The gap between the insurance assessor and the quantity surveyor was 50 per cent higher than what the insurance company had offered. Even taking into account a margin for error, the insurance company’s ability to get bulk deals and economies of scale, there is no way the insurance company can justify this discrepancy. The end result is that the client’s confidence in his insurance company is completely undermined and he will fight them tooth and nail. This guy however has some advantages most people don’t. Firstly, he has the cash available to get expert advice, whereas average Cantabrians who have lost their home and possibly their job don’t have the $2000 plus needed to hire a quantity surveyor. Secondly, he has some expertise in property matters whereas many Cantabrians may lack the confidence to challenge the big insurance companies that have endless resources to fight the small guy. I’ve said before that the Government’s own cabinet papers highlight the need to provide dispute resolution services yet every day further arguments break out between constituents and insurers which will ultimately hold up the recovery as individuals don’t have the confidence to progress their claims. All the while the Government is standing on the sidelines. I know that these issues will be raised when I attend the 3rd Canterbury earthquake protest rally, which is being organised by local people in Bexley at 2pm on Sunday. For this recovery to get going the Government must immediately step in and provide practical help for Cantabrians as they battle their insurers. It’s not good enough to say the market will sort it out if insurers simply won’t play ball. That is a market failure and the Government has a responsibility to hold insurance companies to account.

BRENDON BURNS: Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee must front up and confirm the Government’s plans to install commissioners in the Christchurch City Council and sell its assets. In Parliament yesterday, I asked Mr Brownlee to confirm the Government’s timeframe for action given he told The Press last month that he had no plans to move against the council “at this time”. He refused to say what he will do but it’s plain to see that a returned National Government will bulldoze through the sale of Orion, Christchurch airport, Port Lyttelton and other council assets, just like our state power companies. Research from the Parliamentary Library I tabled in the House yesterday shows the Orion lines company alone, mostly owned by Christchurch city, has returned around $1m a week to ratepayers since 1993. We must not lose our valuable assets and the dividends they return, especially when Christchurch faces such huge rebuild costs. National has already shown its contempt for democracy and the management of important Canterbury assets by taking out ECAN to facilitate the flow of water to vested interests. Clearly Christchurch City Council is next on its list.

LIANNE DALZIEL: I am attending a public meeting that is being held at Papanui High School at 7pm tonight to support those schools that are going to experience redundancies as a result of the impact of the earthquake on their rolls. I am going there to listen to the teachers and the parents, who are finding it tough right now. Not only do they have to look out for themselves and their families, they have to look after children who are experiencing grief, fear and uncertainty. The school environment is one where they need to feel secure, because that’s where they were on February 22. Many were separated from their parents for hours and it was their teachers that stayed and looked after them until the parents could make it. And it hasn’t stopped with the ongoing aftershocks. Here’s what a teacher recently said: “The ground shakes violently and 30 plus sets of eyes turn to the staff for assurance and direction. The school students’ lives are threatened and falling apart but funnily enough so is the life of the staff member standing in front of the class.” She said that we all need time to let the dust settle, and she is right. There is pressure in our homes, our schools, our workplaces & in the community. We have asked the government to relieve the pressure on the schools for another year, while we see what happens to all our communities in terms of where people move. It’s not much to ask.

RUTH DYSON: Today is the last day Parliament will sit before the election. For my Canterbury colleagues, it means we can finally spend all of our time in our electorates to respond to our constituents on what are still mainly earthquake related issues. It is interesting and frustrating hearing comments around Parliament about our quake issues as if they are in the past when they are so real and alive for so many people. It’s great that our new Governor General, His Excellency, Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mataeparae, has put visiting our city as a priority and we welcome his support as he visits a range of quake hit areas. The community engagement on the Ferry Road Masterplan continues over the next little while and I will be interested to hear the views of local people on these issues. This is a critical part of our rebuilding but I am concerned that if plan is restricted to just the Ferry Road corridor that we will lose a huge opportunity to really connect our communities during the recovery plan process.

Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.

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