Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 125

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

* 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 …Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 125

CANTERBURY EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY PLAN 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: http://www.labour.org.nz/news/leadership-needed-to-rebuild-canterbury

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.

CLAYTON COSGROVE: It is interesting to see some speculation today that the Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee may finally be looking at paying for the treatment of contaminated wells, which were breached and damaged as a direct result of the earthquakes. This is a major problem for a group of Cantabrians. These folks have been scratching their heads for months trying to work out why they may be forced to pay thousands of dollars to get basic drinking water. EQC originally looked at providing a remedy, then said they weren’t responsible under the Act for water treatment, then came to a meeting I called and were suddenly very sympathetic and agreed to make a case for the residents, only for EQC lawyers in Wellington to reject it. One thing we do know is that these residents are not responsible for this damage yet they are left hanging as their cases slip through the cracks. In the early days of the quakes the Government made provisions to ensure people with contaminated wells, including water treatment, have them fixed regardless of whether this was provided for under the Act. In this instance the Government made the right decision. More than a year on the Government has changed the rules and declined to be consistent even though it had created a series of precedents. I wrote to Mr Brownlee some weeks ago and to date have received no response. It would be helpful if he could rapidly address this issue. These residents feel let down and many can’t afford the costs of water treatment to take out nasty toxins like arsenic which has contaminated their water supply. I hope the speculation on progress is true and if Mr Brownlee does come to the party to fix this problem I’ll be one of the first to offer my support. Like most things with this earthquake, the clock is ticking, people are under stress and nothing tangible appears to be happening.

BRENDON BURNS: Completely unsatisfactory answers continue to be provided to the 30 community agencies who were tenants in the now demolished Canterbury Community House. I have been dealing with several of the tenants over recent days after they were appalled to discover that items from their offices were being sold at a Heathcote salvage yard. Among the goods being sold were computers and laptops. The agencies located in Community House deal with some of the most vulnerable people in our community. The risks presented to very sensitive personal data cannot be left to a salvage company to manage. Moreover, tenants provided lists of personal goods they wanted retrieved Some weeks ago I made an approach to CERA on behalf of a tenant and was told retrieval was not possible because of the state of the building. Yet now we learn that many items— literally including a kitchen sink— have been extracted. Even so, the salvage firm maintains it received no list of personal items. I am again contacting CERA today and asking it to intervene and review what has taken place. Yesterday it stated that this was an owner-managed demolition. Indeed it was and no one is more aghast at what has happened at Community House than the staff and board of the Canterbury Community Trust which owns the building. However, any demolition needs to take place under contractors approved by CERA. It needs to intervene and provide assurances that building tenants have rights to be kept informed when their contents are being salvaged and sold. Especially when they have been told the building was too unsafe to recover goods.

LIANNE DALZIEL: An email I received this morning repeats zoning concerns I have already raised with the Minister’s office. Those getting in touch ask what has happened to the letter Orange Zone residents were promised for early October – this affects Brooklands, Spencerville and Southshore. The email points out that if CERA and the Government are unable to provide a time frame at this late stage then they either; don’t understand the steps needed to complete the zoning; or they are not in control of the process. My constituents know that the steps to achieving a task are to define what needs to be done, appoint the right people to do the task, and set realistic timelines in consultation with them. The question they ask is “which part of this are you failing to achieve and what are you doing to fix it please?” In this simple plea my constituents have highlighted what is wrong with the recovery. The failure of leadership, strategic planning and communication is seen time and time again. The media has taken the government announcement on the RMA review at face value without doing any research. Our regional plans and district plans are what identify the suitability of land and this is where the failure may have occurred. My constituents are quite rightly demanding answers and I intend to get through the government spin to the truth. People have a right to a totally transparent process that provides all the information they need to understand what has happened to their land; what has led the government to make the zoning decisions they have and why their communication strategy is directed to those unaffected by the offer. I know the answer to the last question.

RUTH DYSON: The Government has made a series of decisions and announcements to help people who are not able to live in their own homes. When this issue of temporary accommodation was first raised, we suggested to the Minister that having conversations with the Community Board, Councillors and local Members of Parliament would be a good idea – and that this conversation should take place before any decisions were made. We know our electorates and can often add value to the decision, particularly if they are being made by people from Wellington. As expected, this suggestion was ignored. The Government spent over $1 million on campervans in Addington, but only one family moved in briefly. One of their other ideas was to build a number of homes which could be placed on people’s own property. Some of my constituents, who have been waiting for months for land checks, insurance arrangements, Council consents and the house itself, were told out of the blue last Friday that the Government has pulled out of this scheme and they should start looking at private rental properties or at private companies who make these homes. This is really frustrating for the small number of people who have been waiting and waiting and waiting for these homes. There has been no statement to the media on this from the Government, which I suppose is telling — it is bad news.
Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.

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