Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 127

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
LABOUR MPs

13 October 2011
Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 127
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 : The Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission has issued its interim recommendations which centre around the urgent strengthening of unreinforced masonry buildings both in Canterbury and around NZ, together with lifting building requirements for design, repair and construction of buildings. The Commission has said that these recommendations need to be implemented urgently. The Government quite rightly established the Royal Commission to determine what lessons we could learn from these tragic events. The recommendations have now been made and the ball is firmly in the Government’s court. There are two key issues people are concerned with. Firstly how can we prevent these tragedies from happening again and ensure that people are safe in the buildings they work and reside in. Secondly how will property owners rebuild in order to provide people with confidence about their safety but also in a way that is economically feasible and allows reinvestment in our province. Mr Brownlee and his Government need to urgently show some leadership and provide a clear direction as to what changes they will make in light of the Commission’s recommendations. The Government rapidly needs to work with stakeholders to give practical effect to these recommendations to ensure economic and social confidence is not lost in our province. More importantly the Government needs to listen to what the Commission has said and also listen to the needs of our local community. I attended another meeting of the Kaiapoi Residents Association last night where concern was raised over a stupid Government requirement that once an earthquake victim has received their full settlement they must immediately vacate their damaged home so it can be demolished even before their new home has been built. The general consensus of the meeting was “how dumb is this?” Why should an earthquake victim be forced out of their home and have to move to rental accommodation using their own money to pay for that accommodation while their new house is being built. Would it not be smarter to allow people to stay in their homes if they want to until their new house becomes available? I was asked if I could comment on this issue and I reported that I raised this with Mr Brownlee over a month ago and the only argument he put up against it was that once settlement had been finalised the Government would effectively become the landlord if earthquake victims were to stay and he didn’t want that responsibility. My argument to him was you have wartime powers and can change the law in these specific cases so you do not assume responsibilities of a landlord. He said he’d look into the matter and to date I have had no reply. I know my colleague Lianne Dalziel has raised similar concerns.

BRENDON BURNS: Cantabrians have had another signal of what National plans to do with their assets if successful post-election. The Government’s submission to the council’s draft central city plan highlights the likely role of public/private partnerships for existing (and new) council assets. Read that to mean selling down council assets – including the Orion lines company, Christchurch International Airport and the Port of Lyttelton. The Government’s submission is also explicit about how it has powers under the CERA legislation to withdraw a recovery plan without any right of appeal. Cantabrians should be under no illusions; the council’s assets, so crucial to holding down the rates increases we face to pay our share of recovery, are being lined up for sale. News reports that a demolition worker is being charged with theft from Canterbury Community House should provide a signal to those involved in demolition of inner city buildings that they cannot help themselves to office contents. I have been asking CERA this week for the rules on salvage. These are now explicit and posted up on the CERA website: “Building contents do not form part of a demolition contractor’s salvage right. Items recovered during the demolition process remain the property of the owner. Where an insurance company has paid out on the contents of a building, the insurer becomes the owner of the contents. Demolition contractors should contact the building owner (owner managed demolitions) who will contact tenants or the CERA case manager (CERA managed demolitions) for instructions on the disposal of the recovered items.” None of this happened at Community House.

LIANNE DALZIEL: Since the Minister for the Environment has denied me a briefing on the report he released last Friday, I have sought other advice which confirms my scepticism about his release. What this report actually says is that despite regional government identifying the liquefaction risk, local government did not utilise this information in its planning or consenting processes until the Waimakariri District Council considered the Pegasus development. This is no reason for reviewing the sections of the RMA that deal with the environmental impacts of development. In fact there are other sections of the RMA that require Regional, District and City Plans to take account of natural hazards and provide for mitigation. When the Minister said in his release that “the RMA did not – and still does not – require [natural hazards] to be assessed and managed” and this reflected the “priorities in the RMA of preserving natural character, landscape, flora and fauna, public access, cultural values and heritage over managing natural hazards”, he wasn’t giving an accurate account of the legislation. Everyone in my electorate who knows about Variation 48 (now Plan Change 48) will know that. That Plan Change was all about an identified hazard, namely flooding, and required mitigation to take place in the nominated Flood Management Areas, namely new Finished Floor Levels. But the same council did not provide for the risks associated with liquefaction and lateral spread and as a result developers were allowed to develop land that was known to be susceptible to liquefaction, with no mitigation required, and to build houses on unreinforced concrete slabs on the edge of wetlands. And nobody is to be held to account. I am starting a series of community meetings to discuss the issues relating to the recovery of the eastern suburbs to ensure we are not forgotten. The first is this Saturday, 15th October, at Parklands Baptist Church, 180 Queenspark Drive, Parklands from 3pm – 4.30pm

RUTH DYSON: We all know that the quakes have brought out the best aspects of Cantabrians but sometimes the evidence of this is just awe-inspiring. So it was when I attended a presentation at Lincoln University, where we heard the story of the Future Leaders students and their activities over the last 12 months. All Canterbury students have had a challenging twelve months. Lincoln hosted students from CPIT and Canterbury University, which means they were a little more squashed than usual. They didn’t complain but it’s worth noting that having someone in to share your space does mean there’s less for you! So in this environment, the Future Leaders’ students undertook their challenge of community support. They spread across the whole country in teams, sought and got work ranging from house cleaning to farm work to scrub cutting and lots in between. They got paid for this work – and then gave the money to be presented to van Asch Deaf Education centre and the Burwood Spinal Trust – $5k and $13k respectively. Professor Sheelagh Mateer led the evening, with Anna Kitchingman and Megan Ash getting high praise for their leadership as year 4 students. But all the students and the employers who offered them work deserve massive thanks. You make me really proud to be a Cantabrian with such amazing young people here!

ENDS

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