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Brownlee cruelly misleads colleagues and victim families



Earthquake Recovery Spokesperson

MP for Waimakariri

Brownlee cruelly misleads colleagues and victim families

The misleading information Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee provided to his own cabinet colleagues regarding huge fees paid to review panel members is extraordinarily cynical given National’s decision not to provide legal support for quake victim families, says Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove.

“Gerry Brownlee told his own colleagues that he needed to pay Earthquake Recovery review panel members $1000 a day, more than twice the recommended rate, because they wouldn’t do it for less,” said Clayton Cosgrove, Labour’s Earthquake Recovery spokesperson and Waimakariri MP.

“According to information obtained under OIA, Mr Brownlee told State Services Minister Tony Ryall: ‘It will not be possible to secure their services under the current fees range’.

“Yet it now emerges that Mr Brownlee didn’t even ask the panel members, who include former National Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, about the level of remuneration they wanted,” Clayton Cosgrove said. “The highly-respected chair, Sir John Hansen, says he would have been happy to work for a lower rate, and probably for nothing.

“Mr Brownlee has put panel members in an unnecessarily embarrassing position, and the best explanation he can come up with is that perhaps ‘my wording is not 100 per cent …’.

“Mr Brownlee’s behaviour is all the more reprehensible given that National has decided, without adequate explanation, it won’t provide independent legal support to the families of the quake victims for the Royal Commission of Inquiry. What must these families now think? On the one hand, Mr Brownlee is glad-handing panel members; on the other, he is mean-spiritedly failing to support victims when they clearly need it,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“He has been unable to provide a reasonable explanation about why Pike River families have been given independent legal support, yet Christchurch families haven’t. Prime Minister John Key promised he would give the families every support he could, but the first time they have asked for anything, they have been turned down.

“It’s not as if the Government has not got the money to provide support. As the Pike River families have said today, the decision by the Government is unfair. It is even more unfair when Mr Brownlee has used dubious means to get extra money for the panel members."


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