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Canterbury business package well short of mark

30 November 2010

Media Statement

Canterbury business package well short of mark

The scale of the Government’s new package of measures to assist Canterbury business misses the mark, say Labour’s Earthquake Recovery spokesperson and Waimakariri MP Clayton Cosgrove and Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns.

The two MPs, representing the most business-affected areas, say that while the business community could not expect everything it asked for in the wake of earthquake, the package offered by the Government simply didn’t reflect the scale of the problems Canterbury businesses face.

“We are talking a recovery which could take two years or more,” Clayton Cosgrove says. “Many businesses face very real pressure as a result of the quake. There are businesses going broke. The Government has to get serious about providing better support.

“Gerry Brownlee must get Bill English to acknowledge this is a once in a generation calamity.

“The Government’s worry that helping out might set a precedent misses the point. New Zealanders expect the Government to be there for people at times like these, and when the quake happened National indicated it would be there.”

Brendon Burns, who attended a meeting of concerned Christchurch business owners last night, says it is unacceptable for the Government to have rejected a Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce bid for a $3.1m package in business assistance.

"That package is the very least that could be done. The Prime Minister said three days after the quake that the Government 'will be doing whatever we can, within our powers, to restore normality to the Canterbury region.' Its phase one response was excellent, but phase two has been long and hard. Businesses that survived the recession are now shedding staff or going to the wall."

Clayton Cosgrove said businesses in the Waimakariri district had asked for $950,000. “What they have got is half of an FTE for business recovery co-ordination and a share of Christchurch’s $100,000 for marketing and promotion. They estimate that at best this share will come to $20,000.

“Waimakariri was one of the worst-hit areas,” Clayton Cosgrove said. “Every business in Kaiapoi has been affected physically or is having to cope with reduced turnover, down 75 percent in some cases. They need real help, not $20,000 and half an FTE.”

Brendon Burns says businesses desperately need the sort of support the Chamber proposes and the Government cannot simply come up with a package which equates to one dollar for every Cantabrian.


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