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 The Mana-Maori Party Deal

If the self-interest involved wasn’t so blatant, the electorate deal between the Maori Party and Hone Harawira would be kind of poignant. It’s a bit like seeing the remaining members of Guns’n’Roses or the Eagles back on the road touring the nostalgia circuit… playing all the old hits of Maori unity and kaupapa Maori politics.

Can the two surviving Maori Party MPs (one electorate, one list) credibly work together with the old firebrand who split up the group years ago, and still hope to rekindle some of that same old magic? More>>

 

Immigration: Short Reprieve For Nine Indian Students

A temporary hold on deportations of nine Indian students is a step in the right direction but the Government urgently needs to implement safeguards to stop further injustices to more international students, the Green Party says. More>>

EARLIER:

Welfare: WINZ Breaching Privacy Laws With WINZ Vetting Rules

E tū, the union for security guards, says WINZ may be breaching privacy laws with its new screening process for people visiting WINZ offices. The vetting requires WINZ security guards to check photo ID and whether visitors to WINZ offices have an appointment.More>>

ALSO:

Turnbull Visit: Leaders’ Talks Cement Trade Relations, Science Agreement

Mr English met with Prime Minister Turnbull in Queenstown today to discuss common approaches to bilateral and international issues, including trade and science and innovation. Mr English also thanked Mr Turnbull for Australia’s offer of support for those fighting the fires on the Port Hills in Christchurch. More>>

ALSO:

Youth Guarantee: Upskilling Fund Used For Retraining

News that one in five of the people enrolling in Youth Guarantee already hold qualifications at the level they’re enrolling in highlights the failure of the scheme to reach the disengaged young people it was set up to assist, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. More>>

ALSO:

Port Hills Fire: Midday Update, Monday 20 February

• 9 homes destroyed
• 2 homes with partial damage. Damage includes things like cracked windows, heat damage.
• 3 properties with damage to other external structures e.g sheds or outbuildings More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On What Trump May Mean For Us

So far not much effort has been put into tracing the possible implications for New Zealand of the stream of executive orders and tweets that have been pouring from the Oval Office. Unfortunately, we may not simply be drive-by rubberneckers at this car wreck for much longer. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news