National To Deliver Faster And Fairer Disaster Recovery
In the wake of a slower-than-expected government response to damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle and recent major flooding events, National is committing to a faster and fairer recovery for regions hit by natural disasters, National Cyclone Recovery spokesperson Chris Penk says.
“Everything is taking too long. People need their homes, businesses and roading infrastructure fixed quickly. National will enable the fast-tracking of consent procedures and substantially reduce the timeframes for private and community projects, therefore speeding up overall recovery efforts.
“National will establish a Cyclone and Flood Recovery Ombudsman to give those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent major flooding events an independent and impartial voice to ensure government decisions are fair and equitable.
“National will also give priority to the construction of infrastructure needed to connect communities and regions. This includes transport links such as roads and bridges but also other critical infrastructure, such as communications systems.
“We will also unblock the EQC assessment pipeline, where delays in determining land value represent a major barrier to post-disaster recovery. National will require EQC to prioritise these assessments and set performance targets to ensure they are focused on delivering them faster and acquiring the skills they need to reduce the current backlog.
“Rebuilding from natural disasters is complex, but National recognises that when peoples’ lives have been shattered, they need certainty and support as they try to put the pieces back together.
“In the time since Cyclone Gabrielle wrought havoc across the North Island, households, businesses and communities have been asking for a recovery effort that will enable them to rebuild or relocate as quickly as possible – the longer this goes on the more negative the effects on communities and on mental health.
“The key elements of our recovery effort include confirming as quickly as possible to displaced residents whether they will be able to remain living in the same community, giving them a voice when they feel decisions have been unfair, and fast-tracking essential infrastructure for rebuild or replacement.
“Those affected need answers about whether land is categorised as being suitable or unsuitable for ongoing residential, commercial, or mixed residential-commercial use.
“They need answers about the level of buyouts offered, the timing of such buyouts, and the implications if they refuse. Crucially, they also need answers about their right to appeal against a property’s categorisation or the level of compensation offered. They also need an advocate to ensure government decisions are fair and equitable.
“National is committed to enabling a fast and fair recovery process, working alongside local government and, most importantly, affected communities themselves. Because certainty and continuity are paramount, a National government will honour commitments made by the current government, but we will go further and faster.
“Rebuilding from these natural disasters is part of National’s plan to rebuild the economy to get it working for all New Zealanders.
“A strong economy means an end to the cost-of-living crisis, higher incomes, lower mortgage rates, and it means New Zealand can also afford the quality public services we all rely on.
“A National government will deliver a faster, fairer, and more certain recovery for affected areas of New Zealand that have struggled in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent serious flooding events.”