Office of the Ombudsman crisis could have been minimised
Earthquake Recovery Spokesperson
16 February 2012
Crisis could have been minimised
The crisis at the Office of the Ombudsman could have been minimised if the Government had acted on Labour’s call for independent advocacy support for Christchurch residents, says Labour’s Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Lianne Dalziel.
“Complaints from members of the public about central and local government have created a huge backlog at the Office of the Ombudsman. Reports suggest that about 270 of the complaints received relate to quake victims’ dealings with the Earthquake Commission and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.
“The pressure in that regard could have been eased significantly if an independent advocacy service had been provided. This would have helped prevent staff at the Office of the Ombudsman being overwhelmed and pushed to breaking point. It would also have ensured that Cantabrians got the timely support and service they deserve.
“It’s all very well demanding increased efficiency, but the government must recognise that there is only so much workers can do. The Ombudsman’s office must be properly resourced if it is to provide an adequate service.
“The government should also take up our recommendation and establish an independent agency to help people deal with both EQC and insurers. EQC complaints currently go to the Office of the Ombudsman, but insurers belong to private dispute resolution services. They should be dealt with by a single agency.
"This situation is crying out for the government to intervene and provide free, independent advocacy, which would enable people to resolve their disputes without putting pressure on the Ombudsman's office,” Lianne Dalziel said.