Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 142

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

It is no coincidence that there is a report in today’s Press which shows Christchurch property prices have increased by 3.4% on this time last year and are now at their highest level in two years. This will be cold comfort for earthquake victims who …

Christchurch

LABOUR MPs

10 November 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 142

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

LABOUR’S CHANGES TO EQC WILL INCLUDE:

• Ensuring widespread EQC coverage – making it universal by collecting levies through the local authority rates system.

• Increasing the cap on EQC Cover from $100,000 in consultation with the EQC and the insurance sector.

• Making the levy proportionate by basing it on rateable values.

• Reviewing the Operations of Earthquake Commission to ensure the lessons of the Canterbury earthquake are used to secure the long-term reliability of the Commission

• Covering temporary accommodation expenses.

For full policy details go to: http://www.ownourfuture.co.nz/earthquake-commission

CLAYTON COSGROVE: It is no coincidence that there is a report in today’s Press which shows Christchurch property prices have increased by 3.4% on this time last year and are now at their highest level in two years. This will be cold comfort for earthquake victims who have had their homes red zoned and now have to join the race for a new property in a market enjoying a two-year high. While this report indicates the difficulty for red-zoned homeowners in regaining the equity they once had, it comes as no surprise that many will be struggling to re-join the market. Real estate agents and those involved in the property market have been saying for some time that due to the urgent demand for undamaged properties and the lack of supply it is inevitable that property prices will be pushed up. One way for the Government to counter this would have been to do what Labour has been proposing and purchase a large number of sections to on sell to earthquake victims at cost price. This would help to keep prices down and also provide earthquake victims with greater choice. Surely the Government can see that these are no ordinary times and there has to be some sort of intervention to give affordable property options to quake victims. Unfortunately for red-zoned earthquake victims it seems unlikely that the Government will take the bold action needed and that is a real shame.

BRENDON BURNS: It was a sad occasion to be at the deconsecration yesterday of Christ Church Cathedral, which has served us as a community for well over a century. It is a building that has marked many lives here and abroad. This is the peoples Cathedral. The people of Christchurch funded it at the outset. It continues to be part-funded via our rates and via the generosity of the people of Christchurch. Dame Ann Hercus five years ago chaired an effort that funded $4.2m for a new roof, heating, sound system and other improvements. Dame Ann is proudly a Presbyterian. I’m a Catholic but I regard this is as much my Cathedral as my wife Philippa who’s an Anglican. That support goes much wider. There is a donation point in Wellington Airport, made in Perspex, in the shape of the Cathedral. A former Australian Prime Minister told me his daughter got engaged on its steps. It marks our past through the period of settlement and it should mark our future as we rebuild. We owe to our great grandfathers and to our grandchildren to keep the maximum we can and rebuild what can’t be saved, stone by earthquake-strengthened stone.

LIANNE DALZIEL: I was surprised yesterday to find that the government had placed more Cabinet Papers on the CERA website without any announcement that they were doing so. ( http://cera.govt.nz/land-information/cabinet-papers.) This is a continuation of their practice of taking decisions behind closed doors and controlling access to information. A quick scan of the papers reveals two problems We still don’t know why the government moved away from its original plan to allow red zone residents to dispute the government offer where there was a “material discrepancy” between the 2007 rating valuation and the market value (e.g. where there had been renovations). And we still don’t know why the government did not forewarn the people of Brooklands and Southshore (who had been expecting a decision in 2-6 weeks) that they were not going to be included in the 28 October announcement. All of the information relating to all the areas that remain orange zoned has been withheld under the Official Information Act. I wonder if that is why we weren’t told about the release. I will be writing to the Ombudsman today to ask for this to be released. I believe the residents of these areas are entitled to know what is being considered in terms of their future. CERA have set up meetings starting next week. I know the Brooklands and Southshore ones will be well attended.

RUTH DYSON: Another huge meeting last evening, completely packing out the St Martin’s School Hall. The meeting was organized by the Huntsbury Residents’ Association primarily to talk about the Geotech issues in the area. Community Board Chair Phil Clearwater ably ran the meeting, but there was a strong feeling of individual agencies not connecting with each other or passing the buck from one to the other. Many questions were answered which is good, but the total picture was still a puzzle for many I spoke to at the end of the meeting.

Lots of people mentioned quite minor repairs that are needed on their homes and then they would be able to move back in and live there, but EQC and/or Insurance companies won’t sign off the repairs until the land is zoned. Meanwhile, my constituents are using up the insurance money on renting a place to live, paying their mortgage as well, and soon will have only the government subsidy to help them when their insurance money runs out. I understand that it would be a huge waste of money to totally rebuild a house on land that is not fit to build on. That is blindingly obvious. But repairing a roof so that a family could return home would seem sensible. The insurance and government money being spent on their alternative rental will be a far greater cost. And the family would be home.

ENDS

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