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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin editions 139 and 140

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

8 November 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 140 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 …

8 November 2011
Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 140

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: Recently I had a desperate constituent case which graphically illustrates how dependent earthquake victims are on their insurance company performing for them and meeting their obligations. A couple whose house is in the red zone recently found a piece of land that they think they can afford. They put an offer in and everything was looking good except they can’t finalise the deal until their insurer tells them whether they are a rebuild or a repair. They simply wanted confirmation of which way that will go. So far they are lucky the developer has given them two extensions initially to the settlement timeframe. They were then offered a third extension of two weeks but after that it’s over and they will lose the property. They are now counting down the days to the deadline and have repeatedly asked their insurer for a decision to be made in order to meet their deadline. In two weeks time the piece of land will be gone forever. This is just one of many examples where people are in a gridlock. These folks aren’t even after a cheque to be written immediately. They simply want to know what the score is and they can’t even get that information. Insurance companies need to prioritise claims and they need to listen and work with claimants who are up against deadlines. I’m keeping the pressure on, fingers crossed the insurance company will meet its obligations.

BRENDON BURNS: Great to see the buzz that Cup and Show week are generating. We need occasions to party and at Addington today I’ll be putting a few bob each way on Terror of Love for the NZ Cup (maybe a quinella with Smoken Up. I only bet twice a year but did well last week’s Melbourne Cup backing Red Cadeaux) Much-deserved acknowledgements were given over the weekend to the refugee and migrant communities of Christchurch for their good work after the earthquakes. The NZ Federation of Multi-Cultural Councils hosted the awards, presented to more than a dozen communities and organisations. Among them the Canterbury Chinese Students Association, which helped with translation and escorting grieving families to the Burnham identification centre, and the city’s mosque which provided food and water. Constituents continue to ask me why former Australian police officers and others with no qualifications are still being employed by EQC. Figures I’ve obtained show there are 95 foreign, mostly Australian residents, doing property assessments. Only 11 have building trade/property qualifications. There is no shortage of capable people out of work in Canterbury.

LIANNE DALZIEL: I am speaking tonight at a forum organised by the WEA about the history and the future of Bexley as part of a series that focuses on the eastern suburbs. Tim Baker, who is local community board member and a local historian will be focussing on the history including how Bexley got its name. Aileen Trist, who is a Bexley resident, will talk about the recent history. And my job is to focus on the future. There is an element of the unknown about the future because the government refuses to tell people what the long term plans are for all the red zone areas. I am firmly of the view that part of the grieving process for our homes would be aided by an announcement that Bexley will become a reserve providing everyone access to our beloved wetlands, which brought many of us there in the first place. As local residents we have spent many hours, alongside the children from St James School, planting trees, native grasses and plants. It is sad to see the wetlands in the state they are in today, but we know that we can bring them back better than before. The belief that red zone land may be developed in the future sits at the back of the mind of those that take the ‘voluntary’ offer. If it were a compulsory acquisition there would be a right to first right of refusal if the land was ever going to be sold in the future. This needs to ruled out or the same offer made to those who leave now.

RUTH DYSON: The local Brookhaven/Ferrymead Residents’ Association called a meeting last night to discuss the new zone for the suburb – Green Blue Technical Category 3. We were fortunate to have the attendance of both Michelle Mitchell and Diane Turner from CERA, as well as Terry O’Leary from Cancern. Well over 500 people attended. Lots of questions arising from the material which was distributed from the CERA office, which I will be raising at the cross-party forum tomorrow. The biggest question was how the decision was made that this land was ok to rebuild and immense frustration that the land report will not be released to the local residents. What assistance will be given to property owners for them to work together for area wide solutions? How will it be physically possible to have an individual geotech report on each individual property, as is suggested in the statement from Minister Gerry Brownlee, that still might be needed ? If a rebuild on an individual section is not possible as determined by the geotech report, will EQC pay out on the land? What if the insurer says that they won’t pay to rebuild there – will EQC pay out then? Can the green/blue land be rezoned red in the future, as was intimated by Diane Turner? Have the relevant land reports been handed over from Tonkin and Taylor to EQC and the Insurance Companies? Will people be able to get legal advice in relation to their options? Lots of questions to which there were no answers. However, the CERA representatives did explain that the Residents’ Association had set up this meeting in advance of the official CERA meeting with residents which will happen sometime soon (after the 14th November) and they promised to have all the relevant people available to answer the questions. The communication plan from CERA is woeful and has increased the frustration and distress for people who just deserve straight answers to straight questions about issues that have a huge impact on their lives.

Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.
7 November 2011

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 139

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.

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:

CLAYTON COSGROVE: There is a great deal of confusion coming out of the community regarding the 3 tiers of foundations being suggested by the Government for the rebuild of properties in the green zones. Since the announcement I’ve taken many enquiries from people who are baffled by what it all means. Of course there is some relief that people have some degree of certainty but now the next hurdle is wading through what little information there is and trying to determine what it all means for these earthquake victims. Earthquake victims need detailed information so this can be related back to their insurer. The Government needs to put out detailed information, as people want to make decisions before Christmas.

On another matter worrying signs coming out of the IRD and Statistics NZ today show 1000 skilled people leaving our province per month since February. The Government was warned about this and there has been talk for some time that many people especially those with transportable skills will leave once they are cashed up and have settled their claims. We need progress in our province, it’s been well over a year, the government needs to provide an indication of when work is coming on stream and what the volume is going to be so businesses can make plans to employ people, give our people certainty, jobs and ultimately hold them in our province. This is critical.

BRENDON BURNS: It’s the school fair season and the chance to get out and about is especially welcome when communities are still struggling with quake aftermath. On Friday, the Phillipstown school fair pulled in hundreds of locals, as did that at the St Albans Catholic School. Later, the Avonside Girls High School senior prize giving was a particular treat at the Aurora Centre at Burnside High School where the Avonside has been functioning this year; staff and girls are looking forward to returning to the Avonside site next year. On Saturday morning, the St Albans School fair was a monster, well-organised and supported as was the St Albans Baptist Church fireworks display and earlier sumptuous meal – not a sausage in sight, I got to carve a delicious ham. This church is a huge focal point for the community and the opening of its huge new community centre last month could not have been better timed. At lunchtime today, I am MC-ing the rally to protest at the on-going destruction of Christchurch heritage. We will meet in sight of the Cathedral and I hope the prospective loss of this treasure provides a rallying point for Cantabrians, two-thirds of whom to want to keep their Cathedral as shown by a weekend Press poll.

LIANNE DALZIEL: It’s good to see that Hon Gerry Brownlee has asked the Community Forum for feedback on any suggestions for activities over the Christmas holiday period for the children in the light of many facilities out of action. Normalising things for children is important. However a survey through the schools could have elicited this information. What about seeking feedback on the communication strategy that leaves residents of orange zones and the new green/blue up in the air over a week after another Friday announcement? Where are the dates for the CERA meetings they have been promised? Where is the personalised information to affected residents? Why did the announcement not mention that the new green/blue doesn’t just affect previous orange zones – residents already zoned green have been rezoned green/blue? I have spent the weekend talking to residents in Brooklands (orange) and those that border on the Travis Wetlands (green/blue). The announcements have left people with more uncertainty than ever. Looking at the land damage through the properties that slipped 1/2m towards the Travis Wetlands, it is hard to imagine how foundations alone could provide the rebuilding solution alone. I would have thought some perimeter treatment would be needed. The residents think that co-ordination will be needed, but who does the co-ordination when they have different insurers? And at Brooklands they are caught between a rock and a hard place – whether they are red or green. Property has been clearly mispriced by the rating companies with some sections rated lower than what they were purchased for. Answers please.

RUTH DYSON: I have mentioned previously how overwhelming it has been to receive such an amazing amount of support in our region, both from within New Zealand and internationally. Well we had another amazing example of this at the end of last week with a huge stock truck arriving in Sumner – filled with hanging flower baskets! Suburban shopping centres in the quake damaged parts of the City are now going to be adorned with these baskets of flowers, thanks to the generosity of businesses in the Ashburton area. Walter, the organizer of this “Colour in Christchurch” Initiative has also received huge donations of wild flower seeds and is working with our Greening the Rubble team to get some of our bare spaces made beautiful. Great stuff! I think this is really fantastic work and it certainly lifts the spirit of local residents hugely if they see some life and colour replacing a bare and ugly site. I still want the Council and CERA to take action in regard to the many sites that are still just big piles of rubble and which still have fences out over the footpaths “protecting” us from the danger of partial building collapses, but forcing us to walk into heavy traffic as well as looking really ugly! Time to clean up!! But in the meantime, a huge thanks to Ashburton businesses. You rock!!

Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.

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