The Labour Party’s Christchurch electorate MPs, Clayton Cosgrove (Waimakariri), Ruth Dyson (Port Hills), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East) and Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central) have started a regular bulletin to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.
CLAYTON COSGROVE: I have read with interest in today’s Press that there is to be a government announcement today on Kaiapoi’s future. As MP for the area, I have been given no prior notice of what Minister Gerry Brownlee will say, but the newspaper says it will be about Kaiapoi’s long-term land-zoning and future. If, as is widely expected, much of the area is red-zoned, it will be a traumatic event for the people of Kaiapoi who have been waiting for information on their future for just two weeks less than 12 months. Kaiapoi people understandably feel they have been bounced from pillar to post, and I hope today’s announcement at a large-scale media event in Kaiapoi will be about treating people with respect and sensitivity and giving them certainty, and not about photo ops and political spin. It is a pity that major stakeholders in the area have not been given prior notice so that pastoral care can be organised.
RUTH DYSON: Another slightly ‘snow-frustrating’ day for many families and businesses. This has to get better soon! Many people are still not able to travel safely or without a lot of difficulty. Those who need to travel for work have been subject to big challenges and delays. Our buses on the hills are not operating completely yet which makes going to work and school so much harder. Our frustration in Wellington was added to when our cross party forum was cancelled on Tuesday night because there were not enough Canterbury MPs able to get to Wellington, but with nearly all of us there on Wednesday, including Minister Brownlee, we still didn't have a briefing. So with a two-week recess, and no news on a briefing until Parliament sits again, we are left with unanswered questions which should be answered now. Tonight there are two important community meetings in Redcliffs and in Sydenham planning for the future of their suburbs. I hope that despite the weather we get good turnouts and that the voice of local people is really heard in our recovery strategy!
LIANNE DALZIEL: Tomorrow morning Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee will officially open the Earthquake Assistance Centre, on the corner of Wainoni and Breezes Roads, Avondale. CERA advised at 7.15am this morning that they would be delighted if I, along with my colleagues, was able to attend. They apologised for the lateness of invitation on the basis that the weather conditions this week were such that they didn’t know whether they would be able to hold the opening tomorrow. As the MP elected to represent the Christchurch East electorate, where the centre is located, I expected that I would be invited to do more than attend. Orion has asked me to participate by saying a few words at the official opening of the Rawhiti substation on 1 September, an event I was invited to a couple of weeks ago. I can’t help feeling that the difference is that CERA is a government department and the decision to send the invitations out to the MPs the day before the event is political -– the Minister knows that the House is in urgency. I have lodged a late leave invitation in the hope I can get there. I hope the Minister invites me to say a few words if I do. The karakia begins at 10am followed by the official opening and morning tea in the Avondale Golf Club adjacent to the Centre. We are told that the Centre will be an avenue for residents who receive their letters of offer from the government (the first of which will be posted tomorrow) to meet with organisations and agencies eg insurers, the Earthquake Commission and lawyers, who can help with information and advice. I hope red zone residents are also invited to the opening and that they can make good use of the centre in the times ahead.
BRENDON BURNS: As red zone residents await the arrival of their offers, there are increasingly anxious questions about whether this will preserve homeowners’’ equity as repeatedly indicated by the Government. As Labour MPs we are being questioned about what we might do, and we are working on some proposals --- but currently the Government has all the cards and it is not saying what options it might be considering. Has it looked at land swaps? Might it consider buying major blocks of land, especially as we are seeing section prices rise before people even have their offers. I am aware of one option that gives an indication of what’s possible. A website has sprung up promoting a plan to buy an 8ha property at Governors Bay. The group is trying to save old repairable heritage homes in the Residential Red Zone. It suggests the costs, if people buy a share, can be a fraction of prevailing section prices – and create a village of 22 heritage homes saved from demolition. This is a great initiative that Government might consider on a wider scale.
Contact: Clayton Cosgrove 021 829 562; Ruth Dyson 0274 461 674; Lianne Dalziel 0275 480644; Brendon Burns 0274 305501.
Paid for by Vote Parliamentary Service and Authorised by Ruth Dyson, MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington