Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 146

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 146

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: The CE of Vero Insurance Gary Dransfield made a very interesting speech yesterday when he in essence called for a review of the future model of general insurance, both Government and private, that we have at the moment. In essence he seemed to suggest that in the coming months all stakeholders involved in the earthquake including the property sector, the construction industry, the insurance industry, EQC and the Government need to be brought together to examine what changes, if any, need to be made to the general insurance model that we have at the moment. This is a very relevant point. As Labour has said in our policy, changes will be needed around how we provide insurance in the future and how we keep those providing insurance accountable to their customers. As part of our policy we have proposed a wide-ranging review of EQC together with a complete review of the role of private insurance providers. At the end of the day we know that people are literally banking on the commitments made by public and private insurance providers therefore it is vital that people have confidence that commitments made will be honoured and insurance processes will work. If there is anything to come out of these tragic events it is that we can learn very quickly from them. Then, of course, there has to be political will to make change.

BRENDON BURNS: My electorate office is getting an increasing number of inquiries from homeowners who were initially put over the $115,000 damage cap by EQC but who are now being told that the damage is being apportioned across the three major quake events. This will be EQC reflecting the recent High Court ruling which determined it was responsible for the first $115,000 in damage caused by each event. However, this approach is putting homeowners through added stress. Sometimes EQC had not inspected the damage from September but are attempting to apportion a percentage share of the total damage. This includes asking homeowners how they assess the percentages of damage caused by the different quakes. There has to be a better way of progressing these issues. Moreover, at last night’s CERA St Albans meeting, it was indicated that the EQC is not yet clear whether its responsibilities for house damage per event may also mean it is responsible for land damage per event. There were still only perhaps 80 people attending last night’s meeting in a 400-seat auditorium as CERA continues to refuse to advertise the meetings. At least last night people were given a better picture of land damage with CERA’s chief geo-tech engineer, Dr Jan Kupec, giving helpful outlines Several residents living along the Dudley Creek were in attendance, worried about continued flood risks and who has responsibility for creek bank repairs. Dr Kupec has agreed to come to a public meeting I will organise to work through these issues.

LIANNE DALZIEL: Yesterday I had the privilege of hosting the Western Australia Community Development & Justice Standing Committee in my electorate. The terms of reference for the visit were focused on the response to trauma experienced by workers and volunteers, but we ended up spending a lot of time talking about the need to have a role for community leaders. I explained that in the eastern suburbs those leaders include everyone from community board and council members through to active resident association members through to church and community group leaders. Our experience showed that they were a great source of local knowledge and an equally important conduit for information. They were the people to whom the community naturally turned but there is no role for them. This has to change. I also spoke about the role of the local police and voluntary fire brigades who were also integrally linked to a range of communities with an oversight that the individual groups didn’t have. The capacity to harness the knowledge of both groups was what made our response as effective as it was. We only had time to drive through Bexley but that certainly created an impact on all of them. I ended the day with the movie When a City Falls and it was all that I thought it would be. It made me laugh and it made me cry and most importantly it reinforced my desire to be here for the long haul and help rebuild our communities stronger than they ever were before. Thank goodness Gerard Smyth had been filming since September and that he had the courage to pick up his camera on February 22 and walk into the streets and keep walking. It is a documentary of our time – our Tale of Two Cities – the best of times and the worst of times, something he captured so well.

RUTH DYSON: At our cross party forum yesterday, it was really interesting to hear from Kelvin Berryman from GNS in regard to their projections of future earthquakes, which is then tracked against what actually happens. I was even more interested in when the four reports due from GNS will be presented to the Christchurch City Council. These reports will form the basis of the next stage of the work on the Port Hills in relation to determining the life/risk model for the City Council to allow residential dwelling and the remediation work for those with landslide or rock fall risk. He was still confident that these reports will be presented to the City Council by the end of this month. It is really important that we have robust science and geotech work, properly peer reviewed, behind all the future decisions. I also hope that the people who are doing this work are really aware of the absolute distress that people are feeling, having been evacuated from their homes many months ago and not knowing when, if at all, they will be able to return to them. Their insurance money is fast running out, the government subsidy does not cover their rental costs, they have to repay their mortgage (6 month mortgage holiday has run out and the interest has continued, so they are still losing) and they are still paying 60 per cent of their rates – on a home they can’t live in. And it might be a very long time before they can return home. Money is tight, patience is wearing thin, and frustrations are growing. Timeframes for decisions would be a big help.
Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.

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