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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 86

Christchurch

LABOUR MPs

2 August 2011
MEDIA STATEMENT

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 86

The Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) have started a regular bulletin to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.

CLAYTON COSGROVE: Kaiapoi residents who received a letter at the weekend telling them it could be weeks before they know the fate of their houses and properties are finding it unacceptable that they can’t get definite information more quickly. The view more and more frequently discussed in the community is that the Government is more interested in political management than it is in the future of this community, and ‘getting on with it’, as Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee is so fond of saying. When Mr Brownlee was asked on a current events show whether he would release all geotech information to people in the red zone, he was non-committal. That is simply not good enough. Whatever community is involved, whether it is Kaiapoi or elsewhere in greater Christchurch, people can’t be uprooted without allowing them to see and understand the full basis of why such a decision is being made. That in the end is all my constituents are asking. If they are about to be red-zoned, as leaks have suggested, the least they should be able to expect is full disclosure of why. Mr Brownlee says a decision is still possibly weeks away. I am not a scientist, and that may be fair enough. What isn’t fair, however, is failing to commit to full disclosure when a decision is made.

RUTH DYSON: I went to the opening of six new classrooms at Opawa School yesterday. It was uplifting to be a part of the schools new beginnings—much different from the usual visits seeing schools that continue to struggle in earthquake ravaged conditions. While not related to the earthquake specifically the renovations have meant the school has operated in very cramped conditions while the rooms were being renovated. This is a real tribute to the staff and students. I also went to a presentation on the effects of the earthquakes on older people in Christchurch. The research was commissioned by eldernet (http://www.eldernet.co.nz/Home) and undertaken by Dr Sue Carswell to look into what service providers for older people (residential care, villages, home support services) have learnt out of the February quake. Dr Carswell had a number of very practical recommendations in terms of improving our response in the future. Given the enormous impact of the earthquakes particularly on rest homes the research was highly commendable.

LIANNE DALZIEL: Yesterday I went along to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce lunch with Christchurch leaders. Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Peter Townsend, Mark Soloman from Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu Kaiwhakahaere and Paul Munroe, a secondee to the Christchurch City Council, spoke about their vision for Christchurch and how Wellington stakeholders – business, political and the bureaucracy – can help make it happen. Peter Townsend made an illustrative comparison between the damage to the CBD in Christchurch--- where 900 buildings have to come down—and the damage to Santa Cruz after the 1989 earthquake, where 50 buildings had to be demolished. In terms of scale this made a powerful impact on the audience. Peter also talked about challenges Christchurch faces particularly around economic and human capital flight. He spoke at length about how delays like aftershocks, land status and the capacity for reinvestment can eat away at the recovery process—particularly with areas of the central city still in need of final assessment. Overall it was a very perceptive commentary on the challenges we face as a city. Mark Soloman focused on the social impact post-quake, not just on Nagi Tahu, but the wider community as well. Paul Munro talked specifically about the five elements of the planning process adopted by the city council to develop the draft city plan. Namely, fostering business investment, a respect for the past, a long term view for the future, a city which is easy to get around and a vibrant central city living area. His feedback was that the draft plan will be out for consultation within the week. Given the challenge of distilling concepts out of thousands of ideas, I am looking forward to seeing the draft plan. I have never underestimated the scope that this challenge presents and hope that further engagement will reveal a robust and practical plan. Peter Townsend finished on an important note which I will reiterate. Our situation presents a unique opportunity. In 30-40 years’ time our grandchildren will speak of our actions and what we achieved. I want to be proud of that conversation and to have achieved the best possible outcomes for our city. I want to thank Weltec and its trades training students. Yesterday the students handed over two sets of keys for houses they built, from scratch, as a part of their training and have decided to donate to Christchurch. It is this spirit of giving that really makes like bearable in Christchurch.

BRENDON BURNS: A veteran real estate agent tells me the market in Christchurch is as tough as he’s ever seen and his assessments are not encouraging. With only 262 total sales in Christchurch last month the real estate sector is at an all-time low. Prices are not good either. For instance he reports an undamaged three bedroom bungalow in a nice street, off Woodham Rd, Linwood, recently sold for $169,000 with an RV of $252,000. Few enquiries have been made for property except for top grade saleable property in undamaged areas such as the city’s north-west. He says the market in is in thirds. The top third is largely unaffected while the middle third of medium saleable property has to be priced very well to sell but lower value homes are difficult to move at any price. There has already been a significant loss of equity for some. Buyers from the red zone are boosting open day numbers at attractive properties but of course they are not yet cashed up and ready to buy. Real estate agents are acutely aware that new homes are for most a luxury item. For those selling existing houses, outgoing red zone residents are their best hope. Hopefully that will provide some boost in residential sales. He says also that inner city land may have halved in value with a lot of businesses moving permanently to the periphery. That underscores the need for capital to be flowing into our CBD even by bargain hunters. To date, there’s not a lot of promising signals.

ENDS

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