************ Media Release ************
Please Earthquake Minister as you show foreign media around the inner city on Friday tell the full story about the recovery here in Canterbury
Tomorrow the Earthquake Minister, Mr Gerry Brownlee, will show foreign media around the Central Business District red zone. WeCan understands he will rename this zone, the Rebuild Zone. We also understand Mr Brownlee will highlight the wonderful progress being made in the inner city of Christchurch and wants no negative talk. Millions of dollars has been spent on the development of the Blue Print plan and its implementation.
WeCan applauds the need to look constructively and with good business investment in the future of our CBD.
What Mr Brownlee will fail to outline is the slow progress of recovery for affected residential suburbs. “Two and half years after the first quake we still have no overarching recovery plan for the suburbs,” states Rev Mike Coleman, spokesperson for the Wider Earthquake Community Action Network. “The stress on ordinary Cantabrians around insurance and eqc issues are as real today as they were in the beginning of the quakes. People across the city are being worn down by the constant insidious manoeuvres of insurance companies. This is coming to a head with the nearly 300 insurance cases heading to the High Court. This together with no affordable land in the city, contrary to Mr Brownlee’s ascertains there would be by the end of last year. The rental and housing market is also at breaking point.
“Do people really care about the CBD, when they are struggling to find a place to live, pay mortgage, inflated rents, inflated insurance levies, rates on homes they do not live in and the emotional fatigue of fighting with their insurance companies and EQC. I am not hearing they care one bit about the CBD”, states Mike Coleman.
Many people in affected areas of Christchurch are on stress medications. The battle is just becoming too much.
“The focus of the recovery has been the CBD there is no doubt about this. Mr Brownlee needs to redesignate his portfolio and be called the Minister for Recovery for the Inner City. The main focus on the CBD must stop and the Government needs to become involved in implementing policies that stimulate recovery and growth in the suburbs,” asserts Rev Coleman.
“As Earthquake Minister, Mr Brownlee’s major role is to look at all issues that are impeding recovery. Insurance is a major impediment to recovery and he has done little to nothing to address this. Recovery should never be about leaving people to be worn down and being forced to take offers not honouring their full replacement policies.”
From the first red zone announcement on the 23 June 2011 WeCan has asked Mr Brownlee to intervene in a number of strategic areas affecting the recovery of the suburbs but he refuses.
Over the two year period we called for
- A statutory body like an Insurance Commission/tribunal to oversee the transactions between insurers and clients and to ensure fair and transparent play. This would guarantee our elderly and most vulnerable would not be left to the mercy of insurance companies backing their shareholders before policyholders
- A rental cap of 10-15% to ensure landlords were not taking advantage of those needing rental accommodation. It is the most affected, the most stressed leaving their homes facing the biggest pressures in the rental market. This would have taken pressure off the housing market which is growing twice as fast as Auckland…So much for the Earthquake Ministers 2007 RV as extremely fair!
- Movement to getting affordable land on the market by fast tracking land development and looking at infrastructure costs. It is now too late as most red zoners have gone and few bought sections within the city.
- Fairness around the Government purchasing properties in the red zone and inner city. The Government have denied any reviews on rateable value and as it stands will force home owners and inner city owners from their land without fair compensation.
It is important we are constructive moving forward but we should never as a city or a country avoid the truth of what is taking place for ordinary citizens. This truth is also being avoided by our media. WeCan believes Mr Brownlee intimidates our New Zealand Media. He is clear with the media; you criticise what I am doing and you impede the recovery. The media seem afraid to get involved as ‘no one touches Christchurch it is too complicated and a risky story.’
Heading into our 3rd year it is time our media started to ask questions of Mr Brownlee; why is the recovery so slow for so many people. WeCan realises the majority of the city is moving on but thousands of households are not and the questions around their issues needs addressing.
Spokesperson: Rev Mike Coleman 027 392 8278
Other WeCan! Contacts: Brent Cairns 027 222 4767