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Quick-Fix Quake Bill Won't Hurt Standards - Govt

PM’s Presser: Free Pass On Quake Repairs Won’t Affect Quality - Brownlee

Canterbury’s quake survivors can rebuild now and worry about resource consents later under new special legislation - but Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says it will "absolutely not" affect the quality of repairs being done.

The Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Bill would allow a new Earthquake Recovery Commission to propose exemptions from laws that divert local governments’ resources or delay the region’s recovery.

Those exemptions would go straight to the Ministers and Governor-General for approval without approval from Cabinet.

Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the exemptions could apply to situations like cracked sewage pipes that could taint the region’s water supply or strengthening a heritage building without waiting for resource consents.

The exemptions would also likely allow Canterbury homeowners to begin making repairs and apply for resource consents and insurance claims once the work is completed.

Around 2000 homes are likely to have damage that exceeded the $100,000 cap on Earthquake Commission compensation, Brownlee said, while another 34,500 homes had claimed damages between $10,000 - $95,000.

But Brownlee was emphatic the exemptions would “absolutely not” degrade building standards.

“One of the reassuring things for Cantabrians who are caught in this is that insurers will want to make sure that repairs to houses that they continue to cover are made to the highest possible standard.”

The legislation would expire no later than April 2012, he said, and there would be no backing away from high standards.

“It’s high standards which saved our skin – literally – in this disaster.”

Brownlee had said as recently last Friday that special legislation would not be needed and local councils would be able to make their own provisions.

But Cabinet had already approved the bill by the time he and Prime Minister John Key spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon.

Brownlee said other parties had been supportive of the bill and the Government had promised transparency in return.

Other parties would be notified of proposed exemptions well ahead of time, he said.

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