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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 138

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 138

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


Labour will:

* Purchase 1500 properties and sell them at cost to red zoned residents
* Ring-fence $100 million as compensation for home improvements
* Release all available geotechnical information
* Resolve the insurance gridlock
* Intervene in the insurance market as a last resort
* Make community engagement a priority
* Use youth unemployment to fill the skills gap
* Establish an independent insurance commissioner

For full policy details go to:

CLAYTON COSGROVE: Very interesting at the Leaders debate last night when John Key was asked why Gerry Brownlee wouldn't release the individual geotechnical data for individual properties. His repeated reply was "we don't have it". This is an interesting position for the PM to take given that CERA CEO Roger Sutton initially agreed to release that information in a meeting of the Kairaki Pines Beach community just after the first red zone announcement. Mr Brownlee subsequently reversed that commitment using the excuse that it would take a whole lot of bureaucrats a lot of time to collate the information and this would hold up the recovery. Mr Brownlee then altered his position and said that he would release this information to individual property owners but only when the whole of the earthquake affected areas in Canterbury were finally colour coded, which conveniently would be after the election. Mr Brownlee also confirmed that if anyone made an OIA request for the information they would be declined. On top of all this Kate Wilkinson, with yet another position on the issue, told the Kaiapoi Residents Association that if residents wanted the information they could hire their own geotechs at their own expense and get it themselves. When residents said they'd already paid for this information with their taxes she had no answer. So after months of shifting positions for the PM to come out and say we (the Government) don't have the information doesn't add up and somebody needs to come clean. Has the Government been misleading people for months? Mr Brownlee says the Government has the information but won't release it while Mr Key says the Government doesn't have the information. Could someone from the Government please tell the earthquake victims of Canterbury the truth? They're owed that at the very least.

BRENDON BURNS: Last night's Press leaders' debate saw Press editor Andrew Holden put John Key on the back foot at the beginning by quoting a June Cabinet paper which included the Government's pledge to pay red zone people for renovations. Phil Goff got strong applause for his comments on both the Government's handling of the quake and Labour's proposals. He directed the issue of red zone compensation squarely at Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, quoting people who had banked the Minister's assurance they would be compensated for renovations not reflected in the RV. Both leaders were asked if they would put commissioners into run the Christchurch City Council as the first action after the election. Both Phil Goff and John Key said they would not. A month ago I asked that question in the House of Mr Brownlee in the context of forced council asset sales. He said he could not say what a re-elected National Government would do. Phil Goff also last night raised the issue of the Government's powers under the CERA legislation to sell council assets such as the Orion lines company. Mr Key chose not to comment.

LIANNE DALZIEL: Yesterday I was really pleased to be able to have Phil Goff and Clayton Cosgrove launch Labour's policy to review EQC in the very street where the Minister of Finance brought EQC after the September Earthquake I will never forget going into Seabreeze Close on Monday 6 September and seeing the street completely covered in silt and finding very distressed residents who had no idea what was going on. I remember holding on for the helpline to confirm whether or not they were being evacuated which is what the media was saying. The media reports were wrong but it really was an early indication to me how important good communication was in a disaster. I also remember ringing Roger Sutton, who was then the head of Orion, to tell him they still had no power. The lights were on by the time it was dark. The damage to the houses especially along the wetlands was extraordinary, but no-one had been in this area. On Tuesday I sent an email to EQC and said that it would be a good idea to take a cluster approach to these areas - I mentioned the damage I had seen there and places like Moncrieff Place in the Horseshoe Lake area. I raised the same concern with Civil Defence including the Minister but was fobbed off. But on the Friday the Minister of Finance brought in an EQC team and their engineers - with a media scrum of course. Seabreeze Close became the 'picture postcard' of the September quake and was where the Prime Minister made many promises. So it felt right to have Phil and Clayton speaking about the lessons learned from those early days through to today.

RUTH DYSON: The street meetings as announced by Chief Executive of CERA, Roger Sutton at three large public meetings are now well underway, and they can't come soon enough for the people who are exhausted and confused but most of all frustrated at lack of information. The City Council and geotech representatives are doing a magnificent job and it is clearly appreciated by those present. I did ask at our last cross-party forum if EQC and CERA could be represented and I understood that would happen, but it hasn't yet. This adds to the frustration as some of the questions are for them and there is no one to answer them. This frustration is nothing compared to the anger expressed by people who heard of their zoning by chance after it was announced last Friday afternoon. The CERA land check website wasn't working for hours and people did not have the courtesy of the information in writing for days. This is a very poor way to treat good local residents! Courtesy and good communication should be the fundamentals of these announcements which have just a massive impact on people but those features are missing

Authorised by Clayton Cosgrove, Parliament Buildings Wellington.

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