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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 159

Christchurch
LABOUR MPs


12 December 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 159

A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch MPs, Clayton Cosgrove , Ruth Dyson (Port Hills) Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.

The weekend's election results have seen us lose our friend and colleague Brendon Burns as MP for Christchurch Central. We have been inundated with messages like this one from the Riverside community:

“It saddens me greatly that the community will no longer have the services of Brendon Burns representing them as an MP. Whichever way you voted I don’t think anyone could deny the enormous amount of work Brendon and his electorate team did following the earthquakes to support our community and the people of the Central Christchurch electorate. Brendon and Philippa lost their home in the September quake but they never missed a beat when it came to supporting their community. It was through Brendon’s good counsel and vision that Riverside, CanCERN and Iconic came into being. Brendon has always given us his full support in all we have done as a community and for that I am truly grateful – there is much we would not have been able to achieve without him. On behalf of Riverside I would like to wish Brendon and Philippa all the best for the future and thank them for all they have done for us and given us.”

Clayton is equally deserving of such acknowledgment and recognition as he moves to a List MP's position. We also welcome our two new MPs on the Labour team, Megan Woods in Wigram and Rino Tirikatene in Te Tai Tonga. Megan is already very familiar with the range of issues that the earthquakes have produced; and Rino Tirikatene is well connected with all the Maori agencies and community groups that work in the hard-hit areas like Aranui and Wainoni.

Over the weekend, The Press used an editorial to endorse our position on the need for an independent inquiry into payments to contractors working for EQC.

We called for a State Services Commission inquiry last week amid mounting allegations of cronyism at the Earthquake Commission. The EQC’s initiative in appointing its own independent HR consultant to review hiring practices is not sufficient to give the public the reassurance it needs that all such spending has been appropriate.

When a major media outlet like The Press carries numerous stories about the sons and daughters of senior EQC staff being hired and paid exorbitant rates, as well as untrained foreign staff when locals were turned down, this needs a full and detailed investigation.

Labour MPs raised this issue with EQC when they appeared in front of the Select Committee for their annual financial review over a year ago. At that hearing we highlighted the fact that real estate agents and others with relevant skills could readily be trained to undertake the estimator roles. These were people that were being made redundant or experiencing a major reduction in work and they were ideal for the job.

We believe such an inquiry should extend to the Fletchers agency, EQR, doing earthquake repairs. As MPs, we are increasingly being approached by constituents raising questions about how Fletchers manages repairs. We have all seen examples of very shoddy repair work.

While Fletchers is not part of the state sector, and EQC contractors are not directly state servants, hundreds of millions of dollars of public money are being spent. Given the fiscal position of the Government – now underwriting EQC - and the call to ensure every dollar is spent properly, we believe Prime Minister John Key might want to endorse such an investigation.

Additionally, the current chairman of EQC, Michael Wintringham, is a previous State Services Commission chief executive. Given his track record in ensuring the state sector’s credibility, we believe he too would want to ensure EQC’s reputation was beyond question. We are asking the Prime Minister and Mr Wintringham to back our call and that of The Press and provide the necessary reassurance which is now demanded.


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