Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Ridding Christchurch of Red Tape

Ridding Christchurch of Red Tape
The Christchurch Earthquake Memorial Service that was held in Hagley Park today was another step in showing the people of Christchurch the rest of the country is with them and they haven't been forgotten. In light of today’s service, arguments over whether or not it was too early are now academic. However, the fact that Prince William and Hayley Westenra flew in especially for the service, along with the country's leaders has a positive effect on the hearts and souls of those who have lost loved ones and suffered as a result of the quake.

The hard yards have already started though and now that the memorial service is over our minds need to go back to how best to get Christchurch and her people on their feet again.

It is amazing to see what rises phoenix like from the ashes of a crisis.

Decision making at a government level can be complex and time-consuming; regulations, legislation and convoluted consultation make it hard to do even the simplest of jobs.

However, I am encouraged by some of what I’ve seen coming out of the Christchurch crisis. Government has focused on the recovery effort and some initiatives give me hope that we may yet be able to move forward and reclaim our position as one of the best countries in the world. Three very recent examples are responsible for this glimmer of hope.

The first is an example of how consents for projects should happen. Just days after the earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee issued consent for one of power company Orion's new networks in the quake affected suburb of Bromley and it took only five minutes to do it. The Minister proudly announced his speedy decision but no-one asked the question: “Why does it normally take weeks or months, along with a hefty fee, to gain consent for exactly the same type of project?” It shouldn’t take a crisis to cut red-tape in order to gain efficiencies.

The second example occurred when the Prime Minister visited welfare centres in affected areas two weeks after the earthquake struck. The welfare centres offered a range of social services under the one roof making it easier for people to access those they needed. The concept seemed to be quite a revelation to the Prime Minister who declared that: "They (people) can come to one location and have all of their needs addressed," and "This is the future of welfare centres in New Zealand, where we combine lots of activities in one shop."

I've been advocating a one-stop shop for social services since I arrived in parliament in 2002. A one-stop shop gets away from silo thinking and silo funding and provides complete wrap-around service for those in need. The real step that needs to be taken is for government departments to work more closely together rather than jealously guarding their respective budgets. Ministers will need to take the lead if this is ever to happen effectively and a good start would be to combine health and welfare as one portfolio. It is already often the case that the same people require the help of both agencies.

The third and most exciting example is in education. Many schools were damaged in the earthquake and are uninhabitable. Out of necessity many schools in Christchurch are currently sharing property so students can be educated and life returns to some sort of normality for them. Sharing the same facilities, one school will use the classrooms for a morning shift and another school moves in for the afternoon shift.

The ACT minority report – produced as a result of the inter-party working group on School Choice - Free to Learn (http://roy.org.nz/Files/FREE_TO_LEARN.pdf ) - suggested just this to better utilise school property and buildings which are normally used from 9am-3pm, 5 days a week, 40 weeks a year. This is terrible under-utilisation of an asset and costs the state dearly. When I asked the Minister of Education over a year ago why this couldn't just happen (some schools have been wanting to have morning and afternoon sessions for some time) I was told the law precludes it. The Education Act says students must attend school for at least 2 hours before lunch and 2 hours after lunch. I said we should change the law - she said it would take time to do that. There are other schools around the country that would welcome this opportunity and it shouldn’t only be given to those in Christchurch.

When decisions are made sans polling and handwringing, based on the obvious and in the cold hard light of a crisis, common sense often prevails. Once we've helped Christchurch let's use the lessons learned throughout the whole country.

Lest We Forget

While New Zealand mourns with Christchurch it is fitting to reflect that the city has a long and proud history – a history that I’m sure will develop and flourish in the years to come. Originally the name “Christ Church” was decided on by settlers arriving in the 1850s. The settlers, dubbed The Canterbury Pilgrims, decided on the name before even arriving in Canterbury. The name was suggested by John Robert Godley, who had attended Christ Church, Oxford.

While initially recorded as Christ Church the city was recorded as Christchurch in the Canterbury Association’s minutes, the name has since stuck. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it New Zealand’s oldest established city.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Populism And Labour 2017

For many people on the centre-left, populism is a dirty word, and a shorthand for the politics of bigotry. In this country, it has tended to be equated with the angry legions of New Zealand First. Who knew they were not just a reactionary spasm, but the wave of the future?

Certainly, at the end of this week, the next US President will have won office (at least in part) thanks to his proven ability at (a) scapegoating refugees and migrants (b) wooing neo-Nazis and racial supremacists (c) attacking journalists and judges (d) threatening to jail his opponents (e) urging nuclear proliferation and (e) by promising to restrict women’s rights to control their own fertility.

On the face of that campaign record, there wouldn’t seem to be much in common between Donald Trump and say, Spain’s centre-left populist party, Podemos. Yet arguably, the similarities could be instructive for the Labour/Green partnership here. More>>

 
 

Oxfam: 30% Of NZ Owns Less Wealth Than Our Two Richest Men

The research also reveals that the richest one per cent have 20 per cent of the wealth in New Zealand, while 90 per cent of the population owns less than half of the nation’s wealth. The research forms part of a global report released to coincide with this week’s annual meeting of political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. More>>

ALSO:

Hospitals: Resident Doctors Set To Strike Again

Despite discussions between the DHBs and NZRDA over safer hours for resident doctors progressing during the last week, the strike planned for next week appears set to proceed. More>>

ALSO:

Not So Super Fund: More Burning Ethical Questions For Steven Joyce

Greens: Radio New Zealand reported this morning that the New Zealand Superfund has $77 million invested in 47 coal companies that the Norwegian Government’s Pension Fund – the largest sovereign fund in the world – has blacklisted. More>>

Activism: Greenpeace Intercepts World’s Biggest Seismic Oil Ship

Greenpeace crew have made contact with the world’s biggest seismic oil ship after travelling 50 nautical miles on two rigid-hulled inflatables off the coast of Wairarapa... Greenpeace radioed the master of the Amazon Warrior to deliver an open letter of protest signed by over 60,000 New Zealanders. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Why Tax Cuts In 2017 Would Be A (Proven) Bad Idea

Ever since the world fell prey to the mullahs of the free market in the 1980s, no amount of real world evidence has managed dispel one key tenet of their economic faith. Namely, the idea that if you cut income taxes and taxes on small business, a wave of individual enterprise and entrepreneurial energy will thus be unleashed, profits will rise and – hey bingo! – the tax cuts will soon be paying for themselves ... More>>

Liquor Sponsorship: Researchers Call For Ban On Alcohol Sponsorship Of Sport

“Due to alcohol sponsorship of sport, New Zealanders, including children, were exposed to up to 200 ads per hour they watched televised sport, and people watching football and tennis saw alcohol ads for almost half of each game,” says Associate Professor Signal. More>>

ALSO:

Mt Albert: Ardern For Labour, Genter For Greens

At the close of nominations, Jacinda Ardern was the sole nomination received for the position of Labour’s candidate for the Mt Albert by-election, says Labour General Secretary, Andrew Kirton. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news