CERA to be rolled into DPMC ahead of slow wind-down for Canterbury rebuild
By Suze Metherell
Sept. 2 (BusinessDesk) - The government will fold the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet early next year as it begins a long-term withdrawal from its hands-on involvement in the Christchurch rebuild.
In a speech to the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, Prime Minister John Key announced the plan, in anticipation of CERA's legislated April 2016 expiration date. The move will see a review of the authority's special powers, which were established in 2011 after the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 levelled much of Christchurch, leaving a rebuild which the Reserve Bank has estimated will cost $40 billion.
The move signals a transition from central government’s current emergency rebuilding response to the long-term recovery with greater local government responsibility.
The government has been “considering an orderly and timely transition from the current response arrangements to an appropriate relationship between central and local government that reflects confidence in the long-term recovery,” Key said. “To ensure there is no loss of momentum in the recovery, we have determined that a central agency needs to lead the transition.”
Some of CERA’s special powers will be extended past the 2016 cut-off date as the law currently underpins the recovery plans, workers’ indemnities and compensation for land acquisitions. Further reaching powers, such as the potential for it to direct local councils, will expire.
CERA’s chief executive Roger Sutton will remain and will join a team of senior officials to help plan for the transition. The role Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Responsibility, currently filled by Gerry Brownlee, will also remain.
In a separate statement announcing the plan, Brownlee said there would be no immediate changes to CERA’s budget, but as the recovery wound down, future budgets would reflect that.
The decision comes following a similar move earlier this year which also saw the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management brought into DPMC. The incorporation is part of the government’s plan to build closer links between the authority and the ministry to further develop the country’s emergency and recovery response.