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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 22


Christchurch

LABOUR MPs

8 April 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 22

The Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) have started a regular bulletin to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.

CLAYTON COSGROVE: Today provides the first opportunity, at our briefing with the Civil Defence controller, to meet the acting CEO of the Canterbury Earthquake Authority, John Ombler, and also Housing Ministry officials, with whom we will be raising issues around emergency housing. We will be talking to John Ombler about his level of knowledge of what’s been happening on the ground in Christchurch, and also about what he sees as the priorities for recovery. Our priorities are based around what could be called the comforts of life --- sewerage, drainage, health, shelter, home heating etc. We are disappointed that our request for free flu injections to be extended to everyone, instead of just under-18s and over-65s, in Christchurch this year has been rejected by the Government. We made the request because there is a heightened risk of health problems in Christchurch following the quake. In its ‘wisdom’, the Government doesn’t agree. Hallelujah --- we have finally received our first response to one of the series of letters we have been sending to government ministers on issues raised by our constituents. Civil Defence Minister John Carter responded to my letter of 17 March re unauthorised demolitions in the CBD by writing that he hopes the Civil Defence controller has addressed my concerns. That isn’t satisfactory. He has clearly done nothing himself, but simply hopes we will go away satisfied with assurances from Civil Defence. That shows the level of his concern. We still haven’t had responses from Gerry Brownlee and John Key. Some 200 people turned up in Kaiapoi last night for the last meeting in the sixth round of EQC briefings I have organised in my electorate. Their main concerns related to the lack of customer service from some private insurance companies. I was pleased that a senior AMI executive was there to provide public reassurances to AMI customers. Other items on the agenda for today’s Civil Defence briefing will be emergency housing, CBD bureaucracy (as it affects businesses) and home heating.

RUTH DYSON: Yesterday I had a meeting with the people from Project Lyttelton. This group consists of members of the Lyttelton community who are actively working towards their town’s rebuild. The issue the community is facing now is how their efforts so far will integrate with the new government authority CERA.I look forward to working with them to ensure that their voices are heard in the coming months. The Mt Pleasant Community Centre which has been a hub for local community groups for many years has received the sad news that due to the severity of the damage suffered by the earthquake the centre will not be able to reopen. Groups who used the hall’s facilities include early childhood care provider Montessori, various fitness groups, a garden club and a pottery group. The Mt Pleasant pop up farmers market was also held in the centre’s car park. The availability of alternate venues is stretched and I will be working to ensure where possible these groups can resume in a new location. Over the weekend I intend to pop in to a local church where a friendly get together has been set up from 5:30-7pm each night. I will attend the Buddhist community’s celebration of Buddha’s birthday, a community event, in Addington with Labour’s candidate for Wigram Megan Woods, and go along to the Great Sumner Picnic in St Leonards Park.

LIANNE DALZIEL: Today I am in Auckland at the 7th Annual Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum. One of the sessions which I am particularly interested in, for obvious reasons, is titled; The Impact of Natural Disasters: Working Together to Get Through. The news today ran a story about my decision, made over the Christmas break, not to stand on the Labour list at the next election. I put a lot of thought into this following the 4 September quake and decided that if I wasn’t re-elected as the MP for Christchurch East I would not return to Parliament. My reasons are simple; I have been a List MP before; 1996-1999, but this time round I feel my role is best defined by my advocacy for my constituents. My time has been focused on gathering information and providing regular earthquake information updates and holding community meetings. I therefore see my primary role as working for my electorate, which is why I do not want to indicate that I would be willing to take a list seat. At the moment I am setting up a range of community meetings starting on Monday with Brendon Burns and then from next Thursday. I have sent out requests to constituents to send in the questions they want answered and will do my best to provide a panel of speakers to address these issues. Lastly, a major concern is the need to immunise. As winter approaches public health will be brought into sharp focus. Health officials say it is vital that under 18 year olds get their flu jabs and I am calling on parents to make sure their children get their immunisations so that we can reduce the spread of the flu in the eastern suburbs this winter These flu jabs are free for this age group, for superannuitants and for vulnerable people. I am calling on the Government to introduce universal funding for immunisations this year as I think in Christchurch particularly a targeted approach will not work. I have also written to the government asking them to consider free doctors’ visits for Christchurch people this winter to minimise risks associated with no going to the doctor.

BRENDON BURNS: I would like to voice my support for the Christchurch Central City Business Association and yesterday’s announcement that 29 October has been set down for the reopening of parts of our central city. I think this is a positive step and will get in behind the initiative as much as I can. The time it has taken, and will take, for business to get up and running is really the threat in the CBD. As debt piles up it gets harder and harder to bounce back. The partial reopening of the city as we head into spring offers a tangible and symbolic goal to work towards and feels like a real morale boost for residents and business This morning my concerns about inner-city council tenants were raised in The Press. While my views on the unacceptable delays tenants faced in terms of access to water, power and chemical toilets were accurately conveyed I must clarify that I did not call for the Council to match the three-week rent holiday given to Housing New Zealand tenants. Rather I wanted to impress that the Council look to that example as reasonable compensation for damaged facilities. My suggestion was that they must do what they can to right what I see as unfair treatment. Following Wednesday’s meeting to the Dux de Lux ---an iconic pub and vibrant symbol of the central city—I have now read the engineer’s report which suggests the pub should be able to reopen. I toured around the Dux with owner Richard Sinke and an engineer and the damage does not seem to be as significant as first thought. The Arts Board’s termination of the lease seems pre-emptive and short-sighted, even given its own cash-flow objectives. The Dux can employ 60 people. It’s important to tourists and to those of us who enjoy a beer or wine in our city centre. The Dux de Lux is a stand-alone part of the Art Centre and surely it can remain open whilst the Art Centre undergoes the repairs necessary. Today I am attending the CPIT campus for their late orientation celebration and showing my support at a meeting of casino workers arranged by the SFWU.

ENDS

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