Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 126

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 126

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.

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

CLAYTON COSGROVE : I attended a meeting of the Waimakariri District Council earthquake recovery committee last night at which CERA Chief Executive Roger Sutton made a presentation. Whilst many aspects of the presentation were positive and Mr Sutton was at pains to stress he wanted a partnership approach between CERA and the WDC, a number of Councillors were quite disturbed by CERA’s overall lack of engagement. Councillor Neville Atkinson, to use his own words, gave Mr Sutton “a good ticking off” for the lack of genuine engagement with the Council. He cited the repeated cancellation of meetings with elected members, poor communication in general, and as an example cited advertisements publicising the resources of the Christchurch earthquake hub with no mention at all of the Kaiapoi earthquake hub even existing. Councillor Peter Allen was disturbed that there appeared to be nothing specific in the recovery plan dealing with health and social wellbeing. He raised the point that “plans are often being done to people rather than with people” and “we often feel forgotten out here.” Councillor Allen also made the point that while the WDC was having some limited input into the planning process this input only appeared to occur when the WDC was pushing for it rather than a genuine attempt being made by CERA to engage. He cited the education recovery plan talking about “greater Christchurch” with no mention of the Waimakariri District. He went on to say that what the District wants is greater inclusion. “We don’t want a Christchurch solution that has little relevance for the Waimakariri. There needs to be better dialogue.” These comments need to be taken on board by Mr Sutton but, in particular, he needs to carry the message back to the Earthquake Recovery Minister.The Mayor also asked Mr Sutton if people in the red zone who have said they are determined to stay would be more likely to make decisions to move on if they were given the individual geotechnical information, which the Government is withholding from them. Mr Sutton appeared to depart from the Minister’s line that it is too much work to get that information out to homeowners and expressed concern that if this information was to be given to homeowners it would make its way into the public arena and those in other zones may make comparisons with their own land damage and start contesting their status. That’s the whole point – people are entitled to this information so that they can, if necessary, challenge their zoning if they feel the decision is unjustified and wrong. That’s the basic freedom these folk should enjoy. Yet again the Government provides confusing signals as to why it won’t release this geotech information. Maybe it’s because the Government does not want any scrutiny of its zoning decisions because some may feel it to be unjustifiable.

BRENDON BURNS: Vodafone last night launched a very welcome $2m donation to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal. A particular focus of the donation is wage subsidy grants for Canterbury small-medium businesses looking to take on new employees, notably youth. Grants of up to $10,000 are available towards salaries over a six month period (which gets the employee well past the 90 day trial provisions.) It’s good to see a major corporate recognising that the $30b+ rebuild of Canterbury requires training on a scale vastly beyond the current provision of 1500 additional trainee placements. And it has to be noted the Vodafone scheme parallels Labour’s policies to convert unemployment benefits into subsidies for employers to take on new staff needing skills. At Monday’s CERA meeting for red zone residents a key issue was whether insurers are including appropriate costings for remediation works and for the new guidelines from Department of Building and Housing on what foundations are required for new and repaired homes. I understand some insurers are already costing in uplifting and removing homes while land is repaired but others are not. Best advice available suggests not accepting offers until the new DBH foundation requirements are made public.

LIANNE DALZIEL: I have had a response to my request for a briefing on the report that the Government released last Friday about the subdivision of land that was known to be subject to liquefaction risk. Gerry Brownlee’s office advised me today that they had spoken with Dr Smith’s office and “they have declined the opportunity to give you a briefing”. In other words the Minister for the Environment has refused to provide an electorate MP with a briefing about a report that relates largely to her electorate. That is unacceptable. The same is true of the Government’s failure to respond to my requests for information about the delay in determining the orange zones. I have come to the conclusion that it is more about the money than we have been led to believe. I understand that yesterday the Minister convened meetings in the residential orange zone with geotechnical engineers and officials in order to get clarity around the “myriad of complexities” that need to be sorted before rezoning can occur. I am going to hazard a guess that many of the officials were from Treasury – and that these bean counters are trying to help the Minister work out how he is going to pay for certain homeowners to strengthen their land to beyond pre-Sept 4 levels (so they can get insurance) when others haven’t been given that option. And of course, unlike me, he will have had a briefing on Dr Smith’s report so he will know not to rebuild in areas known to be prone to liquefaction – except that he has already authorised many of those areas to be zoned green. My constituents are still demanding answers.

RUTH DYSON: Our earthquake feelings have been moved to sadness and support for the people affected in the Bay of Plenty by the grounding of the Rena and the horrific environmental and social damage as a result. We have had quite different circumstances here, given our natural disasters as opposed to the man made disaster in BOP, but our thoughts are with the local people during this time. A large number of my constituents are in orange or white zone, including many who are in rock fall risk or cliff collapse risk areas. We have recently heard of the model that the Christchurch City Council are adopting to determine whether homes will be allowed to be reoccupied by the owners – a life-risk model – basically what level of risk does our society think is ok for a person to be exposed to when they are living in their home. This is an interesting exercise and one which is worthwhile nationwide for building consent and insurance issues. But the Council’s considerations have, to date, omitted an important voice – that of the home owner! This is not a theoretical exercise. This is real life for many of my constituents. And they deserve to know the process, the modelling, and to have their say in both.

Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.

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