Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 90
9 August 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 90
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: Gerry Brownlee’s decision to use taxpayer funding to pay members of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Review Panel more than twice the daily recommended rate has now become even more unjustifiable with the revelation, from information obtained under the OIA, that he misled his cabinet colleagues about the reason for the decision. The OIA shows that Mr Brownlee told State Services Minister Tony Ryall: “It will not be possible to secure their services under the current fees range”. That is blatantly misleading, because Mr Brownlee didn’t even talk to the panel members, who include former National Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, about the level of their remuneration. In fact, the chair, Sir John Hansen, has now gone on record as saying he would probably have been happy to do the work for nothing. Good on him. We’re glad to have him on the job. So why did Mr Brownlee mislead his own colleagues, the people of Christchurch and taxpayers, as well as unnecessarily embarrassing the panel members themselves? Mr Brownlee’s behaviour is all the more reprehensible given that the Government is refusing so far, without adequate explanation, to provide independent legal support to the families of the quake victims for the Royal Commission of Inquiry. On the one hand, Mr Brownlee is glad-handing panel members, even if they don’t need or want the money; on the other, he is mean-spiritedly failing to give support to victims when they clearly do need it. The best explanation Mr Brownlee can come up with to explain away his misleading action is: “Perhaps my wording is not 100 per cent …” That’s putting it mildly!
RUTH DYSON: I was very pleased to see that Campbell Live reporter John Sellwood picked up an issue faced by many residential landowners in relation to EQC cover. Many residential properties are now occupied by commercial tenants and there has been some confusion as to whether the property will still be covered by EQC. This is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed. The case reported on Campbell Live looked at the home of Leonie Guley, who responded to the call by Christchurch City Council to offer any vacant space to displaced businesses to help them to get back on their feet. This was a kind gesture and kept eight local people in work. What the City Council didn’t tell Leonie was that she would no longer have EQC cover – and her insurance premium would be hiked as well! Leonie, like many residential landlords, was trying to do a good thing to help our city and is now faced with a $115k personal risk. The least the city council should do is ensure that people are well aware of critical details such as these before they facilitate these arrangements. Personally, I think we need to go a step further and consider some temporary EQC arrangements in these extraordinary times. I am back in Wellington today for Parliament’s sitting session and very happy to be sporting one of the new Love Christchurch badges. I’m sure I’ll get plenty of requests for them! News from the city council that our beaches may be cleared for use by spring is really welcome news for our swimmers, surfers, kayakers, yachties - and dogs! There is still a 3km piece of sewer line to replace but 9km has already been replaced and I know that it has been a huge job. Big thanks to the people who have been doing this work - long hours and hard work through some pretty challenging weather.
LIANNE DALZIEL: I have sent out my latest Earthquake Information Update (number 19 since the first earthquake) - http://labour.org.nz/node/4000. I have raised questions about why it will take so long to resolve the future of orange zone properties – at this stage a long 4-12 weeks. It seems to me that the main issue is whether the cost of the land treatment--- needed to improve the land to an insurable standard, enabling it to be green zoned--- will outweigh the net cost to government of a red zone pay-out. It seems the higher the value of the land, the more cost effective the land treatment option will prove. This exercise cannot require such an extended amount of time for a decision to be made. There is also the need to reassess some properties on the border of the red zones. The Government has said they will have to wait until all the other assessment work is complete – which on this timetable could be several months away. I have argued that this is unreasonable as there are clear boundary issues which need to be addressed, sooner rather than later. I have written to the Minister about my constituents’ concerns. It’s hats off again to the Farmy Army who will be back at work in the eastern suburbs this Friday delivering 'Sunday Roast Packs' for 600 families. Each pack is made up of frozen meat donated by the Alliance Group, vegetables donated by farmers from around Ashburton, and Beef+Lamb recipe suggestions. Senior Sergeant Roy Appley and the New Brighton Police Station team are literally stepping up to the plate once more to ensure that these packs get to the households that need them. The Farmy Army is working closely with Rural Women New Zealand, the Student Volunteer Army and other volunteers to get these packs into Christchurch's eastern suburbs. The main distribution centre will be the New Brighton Police Station's front yard from 1-3pm (147-149 Seaview Road, New Brighton) although there will be some packs distributed to those who are unable to make it to the station.
BRENDON BURNS: There is continued confusion about what rights people have to attain copies of EQC’s scope of works and cost estimates on the quake damage to their homes.
Advice provided by the Earthquake Commission to one of my constituent’s states that the EQC has the right to withhold this information as per Section 9 (2J) of the Official Information Act. It also says the costings completed on the scope of works are estimates only; as EQC does not want to bias claimants in regards to the repair/rebuild of homes, or to influence quotes from builders regarding repairs. However, the EQC will release the statement of claim which outlines the damage at the property and a repair strategy; it simply does not include the EQC costing estimate. My understanding from cross-party briefings was that people are entitled to EQC’s scope of works and cost estimates where this is over the cap. Where it is under the cap, I understand people are still entitled to the scope of works but not the costings. I intend to raise the issue at tonight’s cross-party forum for absolute clarity on this important and often vexing issue. On another issue, helicopter joy rides over Christchurch are annoying some inner-city residents. At last night’s Avon Loop community meeting, several members said they are sick of the flights disrupting their lives. While Sunday flights might have reduced or ended, residents were woken by the thumping sound of the flights at ten past eight last Saturday morning and then endured the noise at times through the day. I’ve previously raised this issue with CERA which said it’s not a matter within their jurisdiction. My office has attempted to get an outline from Civil Aviation of the rules governing such flights without success. We will try again today with Civil Aviation.