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

Half Empty: Dairy Prices Drop To Lowest Since August 2009

Dairy product prices fell to the lowest level in more than five years in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by declines in butter milk powder and whole milk powder.

”Stocks of dairy commodities are building across the globe due to Russia’s current ban on importing dairy products from many Western nations, and a lack of urgency from Chinese buyers, while at the same time global milk supplies are expanding,” AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby said in a note. More>>

 

Slippage: NZ Universities Still In Top 3% Globally

This year the University of Auckland ranked 175 (down from 164 last year); the University of Otago ranked 251-275th (down from 226-250), both Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Canterbury held their ranks (at 276-300thand 301-350 respectively), while the University of Waikato dropped from 301-350 to 351-400. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On The Last Rites For The TPP

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is one of those litmus issues that has always had more to do with one’s place on the political spectrum than with any imminent reality... For the TPP’s friends and foes alike though, the end now seems nigh. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Farcical Elevation Of David Seymour

With the election won, it’s time to find jobs for the boy. David Seymour is the Act Party’s latest scrounger to be rewarded by the National Party, and not only with a seat in Parliament. More>>

ALSO:

As Key Mulls Joining ISIS Fighting: McCully Speech To UN Backs Security Council Bid

It is an honour to address you today on behalf of the Prime Minister and Government of New Zealand. Our General Election took place last week - our Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key is engaged in forming a government and that is why he is unable to be here in New York... More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cunliffe Triggers Party Wide Leadership Contest

David Cunliffe has resigned as Labour Leader, but says he will seek re-election... If there is any contest the election will have to go through a process involving the party membership and union affiliates. More>>

ALSO:

Flyover Appeal: Progress And Certainty, Or Confusion And More Delays?

Lindsay Shelton: The Transport Agency, embarrassed by the rejection of its flyover alongside the Basin Reserve, says it’s appealing because the decision could “constrain progress.” Yet for most clear-sighted Wellingtonians a 300-metre-long concrete structure above Kent and Cambridge Terraces would in no way be seen as progress… More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Cunliffe’s Last Stand

Right now, embattled Labour leader David Cunliffe has three options. None of them are particularly attractive for him personally, or for the Labour Party... More>>

ALSO:

Key Seeking 'New Ideas': Look To Children’s Commissioner On Poverty - Greens

John Key should not reinvent the wheel when it comes to ideas for tackling child poverty, and instead look to the recommendations of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Group on Child Poverty, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
More RSS  RSS
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news