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Inquiry essential into payments to minister’s constituents

Minto for Mayor

28 August 2016

Media release:

Independent inquiry essential into massive payments to minister’s constituents

Christchurch mayoral candidate John Minto is calling for an independent investigation into last week’s revelations that the National government paid out four of National MP Gerry Brownlee’s wealthy constituents $595,000 each when they were entitled to just $20,000 each from EQC.

While other properties were to be covered by a $140 million land remediation fund in the wake of the September earthquake National’s cabinet agreed to pay five landowners on “isolated properties” individual pay-outs well above what they would normally be entitled to.

“These eye-watering payments to Brownlee’s constituents are outrageous. They are an insult to every property owner in Christchurch who has had to fight tooth and nail, often through physical and mental exhaustion, to get even a few EQC crumbs.”

More than five years on many are still struggling.

MP Brownlee is trying to create smoke and confusion around these payments saying they were justified based on circumstances at the time. They weren’t.

Brownlee makes the extraordinary statement that "The question simply was what is the fastest way forward for people on that particular stretch of river bank?"

“That particular stretch of riverbank” is in Brownlee’s wealthy electorate – so what about the thousands of other riverbank properties similarly affected in other lower-income parts of the city?

Even EQC agrees there have been numerous properties in Christchurch which had been damaged to the same extent as the Fendalton four but were told they should be grateful for peanuts.

The independent investigation needs to get to the bottom of the relationship between the minister and these constituents and restore some confidence citizens will be treated equitably by government agencies.

In the meantime its hard to avoid the uncomfortable truth that, in the words of National blogger Cameron Slater, National regards Christchurch east voters as “scum” and “useless pricks”.


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