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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 25



Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 25

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: My Christchurch colleagues and I are at today’s select committee hearing in Christchurch on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) legislation. Labour supported the Bill to select committee, but our support past then will depend whether the Government follows through on its promise to approach this in a bi-partisan way. We’ve proposed a number of amendments following consultation with constituents and based on international best practice. This legislation needs the interests of Canterbury people at its heart. Labour suggested the select committee process should be held in Christchurch today so that key Canterbury stakeholders, such as Ngāi Tahu and CanCERN (Canterbury Communities Earthquake Recovery Network) can have their say. Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and the CERA chief executive have wartime powers that must be exercised appropriately. Canterbury people want detailed, robust planning, but also want a say in what their towns, city and province look like in the future. Some critics call this PC or woolly, but when you look at a contemporary example in terms of what the Waimakariri District Council is doing, the importance of listening to communities becomes obvious. The council embarked on consultation after September, and drilled past people like MPs (though they were included) to get to the grassroots. It’s now been able to push the go button, and can tell people it has a plan --- that you will be the first to get your life back on track, and you will be the last. I’ve been attending tough meetings, where people have been in tears and there have been fears people may endanger their own lives when they learn that it may take up to four years to get their houses back, but people are backing the process and not blaming the council. That’s a key point for the CERA legislation. Mr Brownlee holds the pen, but it’s not good enough just to appoint a panel of 20 people, talk to them a few times and call it consultation. In New Orleans they floundered for years, until they really talked to communities. When you give people accurate information, people will buy into a plan. CERA’s huge power must be used appropriately, with checks and balances so people aren’t mowed over. Gerry Brownlee has said that people coming forward with ideas are politically-motivated or are impeding progress. We reject that. We have supported the legislation so far in good faith, but we are not prepared to give up our right to say what we think and what our constituents think. My full speech in yesterday’s parliamentary debate is available at: http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/8222.

RUTH DYSON: The CERA legislation is the next chance we have to light the flame of hope for people in our patch. The CERA Bill does a lot of things; it gives extraordinary powers to the Minister and a new multiagency government department. Labour will work alongside people of any and all political persuasions to get our region up and running. We want to work with our elected representatives, our councillors and our community boards. They must have a role and they are not mentioned in legislation. These organisations have taken up the challenge of supporting members of our community; and we need to honour that. We need to do this together in order to get it right. The future of our city is too important to leave talented people out of the loop. The Minister must listen carefully to submitters today. He has said he will only be making minor changes to the legislation---it is very frustrating to hear that kind of comment before the select committee has even taken place—it is an arrogant way to treat people willing to participate and offer their expertise in our recovery. If quake response was an Olympic sport we would have won gold. I urge the Minister to give openness and democracy a decent chance. There are three points which in my view are vital to the recovery, which are not adequately acknowledged in the legislation. Firstly, the people of Canterbury must drive recovery. Secondly, the process has to be open and transparent. Thirdly, the recovery must be at a good pace. It has already been a long seven months and I am concerned that this multiagency department may not be the most nimble structure we could put in place. My full speech is available at: http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/8228

LIANNE DALZIEL: I thought the Government’s position in the first reading of the CERA Bill was disappointing. It simply reinforced that this Government has no understanding of recovery as a process. We need to learn from disasters and consult international best practice. What we don’t need is a government which exacerbates a tragic situation by ignoring the very people it closely affects. Response and recovery are the core to getting through disaster. Initially these should run parallel. Response is a strength in New Zealand, which is a credit to our communities. No one is questioning the initial focus on preserving life, the focus on the central CBD and the restoration of our core infrastructure like power, water and sewerage. The power in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake was with the people, and they rose to the challenge. Now we have legislation which puts Cantabrians in the backseat while the Government navigates their future. We have decision making entrenched in Wellington and veto power resting with a Minister who marginalises those offering constructive criticism suggesting they only ‘politicise’ matters. It is utterly inappropriate that people may feel fearful to criticise process in case that was interpreted as criticising the government at large. Today I am meeting communities in the eastern suburbs because regardless of the framework set down by government consultation is my priority. Labour will make this work for the people of Canterbury. I am running my first community meeting tomorrow night at Chisnallwood School, Avonside, from 7:30pm. My full speech on the first reading of the CERA bill is available at: http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/8224

BRENDON BURNS: When I spoke in the House yesterday on CERA, it was my first chance in seven weeks to talk about the earthquake in that forum Before I addressed CERA issues, I acknowledged the toll on human life, with most of the fatalities having occurred in my electorate, and the herculean efforts and bravery of so many groups and individuals in the rescue. So many people did so many extraordinary things. I hope recovery through CERA delivers the same urgency and purpose seen in the immediate aftermath of the February quake. Gerry Brownlee has concerns that public input might delay what CERA is trying to deliver, but that need not be so. This is not business as usual. The normal way of getting things done is from the top down. This needs to be from the bottom up. Canterbury people deserve to be able to have genuine and rapid input. We need to do things differently. The vehicles for doing that --- such as CanCERN --- are already well-known and effective. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Canterbury people to have their say. Their lives, their communities, their businesses are at stake. We don’t need a hand-picked ministerial forum. Why not a community forum chosen by the communities themselves? My full speech is available at: http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/8230.


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