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Earthquake Minister, please accept the judicial review on the Red Zone- Guest post by WeCan

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wecan26 August 2013 ************ Media Release ************

Earthquake Minister, please accept the judicial review on the Red Zone …and look for a creative solution to help affected people move forward. The Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network (WeCan) is calling on Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee to accept the judgment of High Court Judge, Justice Pankhurst. WeCan spokesman, Rev. Mike Coleman, says the decision is clear, and he and his team would be extremely disappointed if Mr Brownlee attempted to put people crippled by his original decision in 2011, through another distressing court proceeding. “The Government offer to affected people in the area of the red zone has been judged as being unfair; going against the basic human rights of those seriously affected in the Canterbury earthquakes,” he says. “Ordinary Cantabrians, represented by the Outcasts Group, stood to lose much of their properties equity and it would be a further slap in the face should Mr Brownlee decide to appeal this decision and continue the stress and pain even longer,” he says. Coleman adds that the Minister could show a real sense of justice and a sincere focus on the recovery by accepting the court’s decision. “In doing so, Mr Brownlee would enable the families, elderly and others who have been through a living hell over the last two and half years, to finally move on with their lives,” he says. WeCan adds that there is clear legislation included within the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act designed to bring about effective and timely recovery for the people of Canterbury. “The decision by Justice Pankhurst states clearly that the Earthquake Minister refused to use the powers of the Act that could have assisted this community, so he could make unfair offers for land. WeCan believes the offers amounted to coercion as people had no choice but to sell their properties,” says Coleman. “It was clear from the beginning the Government wanted people off these areas. Even the words at the bottom of the ‘offer’ stated, ‘if you do not accept this offer we can compulsorily acquire you’. The threat by the Prime Minister stating, there would be no infrastructural services available in these areas which created a fear among the community. In the end people felt they had no choice but to leave, and in the porocess lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the stress and extreme upset it caused,” says Rev. Coleman. WeCan have continued to challenge the Red Zoning of land since the announcement on the 23 June 2011. Rateable Value was used by CERA and the Earthquake Minister to set values and as an assessment of equity despite Property Valuers writing to Mr Brownlee stating this would be inaccurate by up to 40% in one in three cases. “In the end, the Minister would only pay out 50% of the value of both sections and homes. This has now been judged to be illegal,” says Coleman. WeCan is repeating its calls for the Earthquake Minister to accept the finding of Justice Pankhurst and to start a conversation with affected people to find a new solution which will result in a fair payment to those affected in the areas of the red zone. “The solution must honour the full equity people had in their properties at the time of the earthquakes,” says Rev. Mike Coleman. WeCan, therefore affirms Justice Pankhurst’s statement that the Minister and the Chief Executive “reconsider and reach a new decision to purchase the applicants properties, such decisions to be made in accordance with the Law.” In this regard he requires the “purposes and principles of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 to be applied when they make such decision.” ENDS For further comment please contact:

Spokespeople:

Mike Coleman 027 392 8278

Brent Cairns 027 222 4767

Author: Sarah Miles

Trained as a lawyer, psychotherapist and mediator. My goal is to make my voice heard for the causes in which I believe so as to improve and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable society. I believe in the enormous power of the human spirit and the power within each of us to effect major change. "The only triumph over evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing". https://thechristchurchfiasco.wordpress.com/

4 thoughts on “Earthquake Minister, please accept the judicial review on the Red Zone- Guest post by WeCan

  1. We have not been affected by the earthquake. Our Port Hills house and land are fine although we remain red stickered (s124) and red zoned. We had full replacement insurance and a registered valuation done at the same time as the rates/GV were set in 2007. Our registered valuation reflects what we ACTUALLY PAID for our property. We had a valuation done because we really extended ourselves and the bank required it in order to give us a mortgage. At a meeting in Sumner, post earthquake, I asked Rodger Sutton where our family stood seeing as we paid well over GV but had a registered valuation and full replacement insurance. He said publicly that CERA was ignoring registered valuations and that having one meant nothing. I knew at that point (well before the 50% GV “offer” to bare land owners) that something was seriously amiss. Everything since then has pointed to our government protecting the interests of insurance companies ahead of rate payers and citizens. Yes I’ve bought the “Christchurch Fiasco” book too! Now… granted it is an insurance companies business model to minimize liabilities for shareholders while at the same time I also believe it is morally wrong for policy holders to attempt to gain from a claim, although many have. If we are forced to accept GV we will not be able to afford another property at our age. So we will have to move to a cheaper area, in fact it will be leaving Christchurch but we believe our insurance company should honor the contract we have with them or the Council should fix their rocks, enabling us to stay and get on with our lives. We have a quote of $60k to do this work but Mr Brownlee says even if the work was done he will not be changing the zoning status to green. If the government’s appeal is successful then look-out everyone in New Zealand who owns property of any kind. This government have completely ignored established property compensatory laws and at one point Mr Keys said that even offering 50% was a generous precedent being set. The precedent being set was to ONLY offer 50% !

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  2. If the offers were “very very fair” and “generous” and therefore justifiable, as the government claimed . Then why did the government deliberately leave this group to the very last to make sure they were a small minority in order to make it easier to “deal” with?

    If the offers were “very very fair” and “generous” and therefore justifiable, as they claimed. Then why did the government deliberately release the offer on the same day as the Canterbury schools closure/restructuring debacle in order to deliberately create a media diversion and smoke screen for the public attention?

    If the offers were “very very fair” and “generous” and therefore justifiable, as they claimed. Then why did Brownlee warn those who initially tried to reason with him sensibly, that they shouldn’t go to the media with this matter, when this is suppose to be a free country to be able to do so if people wish?

    If the offers were “very very fair” and “generous” and therefore justifiable, as they claimed. Then why then, after the news got out to the wider NZ media, did Brownlee, Sutton and the government, immediately embark on a concentrated media campaign to portray most of the land owners as rich developers and being irresponsible for not having insurance, when the reality was that the majority of owners were just your average hard working Kiwi families and they couldn’t get insurance for bare land even if they tried?

    I think these very very important answers need to asked of Brownlee, Sutton and their government backers.

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  3. The way Miniister Brownlee conducts himself leaves a lot to be desired.
    His actions managing this whole debacle is unconscionable. It is farsical how he is getting with it in a democratic country

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  4. I see Bully Brownlee in his typical gung-ho fashion has indicated he will appeal – yet another flagrant misuse of taxpayer money to further his forays into grinding down ordinary people.

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