The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority

Posted 29 Mar 2011 by Swiggs Popular
Posted in CERA/Govt

Prime Minister John Key today announced the creation of a new, single authority to provide leadership and coordination of the ongoing recovery effort in Canterbury

. FAQ for the CERA

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) will be established as a stand-alone government department to enable an effective, timely and co-ordinated rebuilding and recovery effort in Canterbury. CERA will have a lifespan of five years and its operations will be reviewed annually.

“Rebuilding Christchurch and the wider region following the earthquakes is one of the government's highest priorities and we are committed to providing the necessary resources to make this happen over the coming weeks, months and years,” Mr Key says. “We are making progress on many fronts, but this will be a long and complex task which will require huge resources.

“While the initial focus has been on rescue and relief, it is critical we move forward with business recovery, getting vital infrastructure running and ensuring we have the right systems and relationships in place to get greater Christchurch rebuilt. “CERA will support the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee to get the job done, in close collaboration with local councils and local communities,” Mr Key says.

CERA’s establishment will be made effective by Order in Council and will be made complete by enabling legislation which will be introduced to Parliament in coming weeks. “It has been clear since the February 22 earthquake that the rebuilding task in front of us is too large to be completed by existing institutions,” Mr Key says. “We have looked at international examples of major disasters and been mindful of the lessons learned as we have looked for the best governance structure.

“Billions of dollars will be spent on behalf of taxpayers to fix Canterbury and the job requires a significantly more centralised response – but one that works alongside the Christchurch City Council, other councils and local government agencies, and also provides ways for the community to have input. “I’m confident we have developed a structure that meets those requirements,” Mr Key said.

From Christchurch City Council

Christchurch residents will have plenty of opportunity to have their say in the Recovery Plan for the Christchurch Central Business District, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says. Mr Parker today welcomed the Government’s announcement on earthquake recovery in Canterbury, the feature of which is a new single authority the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) to lead the earthquake recovery effort in the region.

The Government also announced that the Christchurch City Council will lead the development of the one mandatory recovery plan – the Recovery Plan for the Christchurch Central Business District (CBD). “The announcement gives us certainty around the role of the Government, the Council, other territorial authorities, interest groups and residents in the recovery plan for Canterbury. It also puts a timeline around the way forward for the city’s central business district,” Mr Parker says. “In addition to reflecting the views of Christchurch residents, the mandatory plan for the CBD will have input from the new authority, Ngai Tahu and other parties as appropriate.”

He says community engagement is a “major aspect” of developing the plan. “We will work with our community on a draft concept plan, and once the draft plan is developed we will again consult extensively with our residents and make further adjustments to it based on the feedback received.” The Mayor says today’s announcement is a significant step forward for Christchurch’s earthquake recovery. “Given the scale of the tragedy and the multi-billion dollar cost involved in repairing and rebuilding our city, it is important that we work on this huge task in a partnership with the Government,” Mr Parker says.

He is pleased that the Government also demonstrated its commitment to retaining local democracy and community engagement as much as possible through the recovery process. The Council will work in partnership with the authority on the development of the Recovery Strategy and on all the recovery plans, including the plan for infrastructure, he says. “In addition to our role in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery process, we also have our role as community advocates, consent makers and service deliverers.” Mr Parker says the city was still in the response phase following the earthquake with a state of emergency in place

. He expects that the Council will resume its democratic role in the city in about three weeks. “However that depends on when the state of emergency is lifted,” he says. “Recognising that once the Government announced its structure for earthquake recovery in the city we would need to work quickly, a lot of work has already been going on behind the scenes,” he says. “The Council and the Government are expecting a finalised plan for the Central Business District within nine months. Therefore I hope to be able to announce more details of what we’re planning for the first stage of our community engagement in the next week. “We need to be upfront and say it is unlikely that the significant rebuild of the central city could start before the end of the year.

The timeframe of course depends on the Earthquake Commission and the insurance companies completing their work with the property owners. “Our ultimate goal is to build the most earthquake safe city in the world,’ he says. Mr Parker says that in the meantime the Council in conjunction with Civil Defence is focused on the rebuild and repair. This includes removing the cordons and ensuring that city businesses which can be opened get back to business as soon as possible.

“We will also be doing our utmost to make repairs for residents in the eastern suburbs hardest hit by the February quake. There will be no slowing down of our efforts to get the city up and running again,” he says.

From New Zealand Herald

The Government has created a new, stand-alone authority - the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, or CERA. John Key says it will provide leadership and coordination of the ongoing recovery effort. CERA will have a life-span of five years and its operations will be reviewed annually. Its interim chief executive will be Deputy State Service's Commissioner John Ombler.

Mr Key says the rebuilding in Christchurch will be a long and complex task which will require huge resources. It is vital to move forward with business recovery and getting vital infrastructure running. An Order in Council will have to be made to establish the new body, and that's due to happen within weeks.

"The new authority will pull together the resources of central government and coordinate them so we have an effective timely recovery," he said in a press conference yesterday.

From Stuff

A new stand alone government department with widespread powers has been created to manage the rebuilding of Canterbury following the devastating February 22 earthquake. Prime Minister John Key said the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) would operate for five years, with its operations reviewed annually.

The interim chief executive would be deputy State Services Commissioner John Ombler. Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the authority would coordinate the recovery effort and have the power to relax, suspend or extend laws and regulations to allow faster decision making on key aspects of the rebuild.

''These are essentially reserve powers and there will be checks and balances on the use of these powers so the public can have confidence they are being used wisely and with restraint,'' Brownlee said. Enabling legislation setting up the authority would be before Parliament in the next few weeks.

Brownlee said the authority was modelled on lessons learned from international experience and the response to Canterbury's September 4 earthquake. It would work with local councils and communities, the residents of greater Christchurch, Ngai Tahu and the non-government sector and business interests. ''As Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery I look forward to working with all these parties to make the rebuilding of Christchurch, and the wider region, something we can all be very proud of.''

The authority would itself be overseen by an independent four person review panel which would be chaired by a retired High Court judge and assess all legislative and regulatory changes CERA sought to make. A cross-party forum of Canterbury MPs would be set up to provide advice and a forum of Canterbury community leaders would provide input on issues important to locals.

There would be appeal rights against decisions made by the authority, with hearings heard swiftly by the High Court. The authority would also be subject to the Official Information Act. Brownlee said many of powers in the proposed legislation were based on those put in place in Queensland to deal with the Australian state's devastating floods in January.

These included the power to acquire, hold, deal with and dispose of property and Brownlee's ability to call-in the powers and functions of a local authority or council organisation. Brownlee said it was important that the public have confidence that the powers would be used judiciously. ''The review panel will provide the valuable function of independent scrutiny so the public can have confidence that CERA is carrying out its role appropriately.'' ''A key early step will be the appointment of around 20 individuals to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Community Forum. 

This cross section of the many interest groups across the region will be an important conduit for the community to express what's important to them in developing the plan for rebuilding Canterbury.'' Brownlee hoped to announce the community forum's membership within three weeks. The authority would be based in Christchurch and partly staffed by secondees from government ministries directly involved in the recovery process. It was hoped to appoint a permanent chief executive within five weeks.

Labour earthquake recovery spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said the Opposition was prepared to give the authority a go, but questioned how much consultation there had been with locals. There were also concerns that the authority could mire the rebuilding effort in bureaucracy. ''We are worried that the Government has not consulted widely.

It says it has but, if that's the case, it is remarkable that despite working closely with Cantabrians on the ground every day since the February quake happened, I have still found no one who has been consulted. ''My fear remains that the new authority will unleash hundreds of Wellington bureaucrats with clipboards and pens tripping over their own red tape as they seek to impose their solutions on Canterbury people who already know what has to be done. ''The last thing Canterbury people need is more bureaucrats stifling innovative ideas about the rebuild.

Canterbury's local authorities can't do it on their own without support, but Canterbury people are entitled to say what sort of city and province they want. The Government has not listened to Canterbury people for the past six months, but they are the ones who know what needs to be done.''


Deputy State Services Commissioner John Ombler will head the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie announced today. However he will only be in the position on a temporary basis while a permanent chief executive is found.

The announcement comes as Prime Minister John Key announced the creation of a new, single authority to provide leadership and coordination of the ongoing recovery effort in Canterbury. The authority will work with Canterbury Earthquake Recovery minister Gerry Brownlee and in close collaboration with local councils and local communities.

"Rebuilding Christchurch and the wider region following the earthquakes is one of the government's highest priorities and we are committed to providing the necessary resources to make this happen over the coming weeks, months and years," Key said. "It has been clear since the February 22 earthquake that the rebuilding task in front of us is too large to be completed by existing institutions."

CERA will have a lifespan of five years and will be reviewed annually. Rennie said Ombler had worked in the public service for 34 years and worked in a management position at the Department of Conservation before joining the State Services Commission. "John has a clear understanding of the role and the importance of building a strong partnership with local government in Christchurch," Rennie said. "He has a strong background in working effectively with a wide range of stakeholders and will establish a sound platform for the incoming permanent chief executive."

Ombler will start as acting Chief Executive on March 30. The State Services Commissioner says it will take about five weeks for an accelerated recruitment process to find a permanent chief executive. There had been speculation last week that former Customs Service boss Martyn Dunne would be put in charge of the department, but Brownlee said on Sunday that those reports were premature and Dunne was not taking the role.

That led to Labour's Clayton Cosgrove saying yesterday the matter had turned into a "fiasco". Today Cosgrove said he would give CERA "a go" but still fears whether the government has listened to the Canterbury people. "Canterbury people will remember John Key's promises that no one in Canterbury will be worse off, and that Canterbury will be rebuilt quickly and better than before,

" Cosgrove said. "We will hold John Key to those promises." He says he is dubious about the governments claims it consulted widely before setting up the agency.


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