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Alliance backs earthquake campaigners call for openness

Alliance backs earthquake campaigners call for openness and honesty

Alliance Party candidate for Wigram Kevin Campbell says he fully supports the Christchurch group WeCan (Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network) in its call for more openness and honesty from the Government.

Mr Campbell says through his work as a community lawyer representing those affected by the earthquake that requests for clients of Community Law Canterbury (CLC) wanting Official Information Requests have been unsatisfactory.

"I would have thought a Government that truly cares about the anxiety and plight of the people of Christchurch would do much more to give them the information they want and will be entitled to eventually. One lame excuse for with-holding information CLC client's received from Minister Brownlee was that there was insufficient staff to attend to all the requests.

"That's nonsense," says Mr Campbell.

"The Minister should look at trimming some of the bureaucracy for a start. I wrote to him earlier this year asking to meet to discuss the provision of free legal services along the lines of the Victorian Governments legal assistance scheme after the bush fires. I’m still waiting."

The clear lesson learnt by the Australian Victorian and Federal governments was that the provision of free legal services was a vital and integral part of community recovery, says Mr Campbell.

“At the opening of the Earthquake Assistance Centre in Avondale in the Red Zone, I pointed out to Roger Sutton, CEO of CERA, that the insurance companies have, literally, all the insurers in the world whereas Red Zone Residents just have us (Community Law). Roger Sutton agreed insurance was a big problem but still we await adequate funding to help these people. Just what did the good people of New Zealand give their financial support to in the Earthquake Appeals?”

He says Community Law Canterbury has sought funding from four different government departments; CERA, Dept Prime Minister, MSD and Ministry of Justice – all just pass the buck.

People also need free access to technical advice, including builders, engineers, assessors and the like, to be able to fairly challenge assessments by EQC and insurers, says Mr Campbell.

“It just isn’t a fair playing field. WeCan shouldn’t have to be doing what it is and I admire their work.”

Mr Campbell, a former Alliance MP, says he wants to ensure that Christchurch people have an independent and experienced voice in Parliament to back them when the Government is not doing its job.

ENDS

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