KEITH LOCKE (Green)
The Greens have supported the national state of emergency as a means of mobilising national resources and getting essential recovery work done quickly and efficiently. We praise the many people who have gone the extra mile to get things moving, the people at Orion who got the power back on very quickly, the heavy-truck operators who have been working so hard to get all the silt and rubble cleared away, and the many people who have travelled from cities and towns outside of Christchurch to work there and help the people of Christchurch in their hour of need. However, alongside the praise, we have to note the criticism by Christchurch locals of certain aspects of the civil defence operation and help rectify this situation wherever the criticism is justified.
It is distressing to still read as recently as this morning in the Christchurch
newspaper that people are complaining that premises are being knocked down without the owners or residents even being informed. In this morning’s
, Hayato Sakaguchi, who operated the Billiken Japanese restaurant in Colombo Street and lived in the apartment upstairs, complained that his building had been demolished without notification or any opportunity to recover valuables, despite the fact that he had registered his details on the official
earthquake website. The slow, overly cautious, zero-risk approach to giving business owners access to premises is still causing frustration and slowing business recovery. The closer the earthquake recovery operation is to the people, the less we will see such problems, and in this respect the quicker the national state of emergency can be ended and more powers devolved to the local people, including the Christchurch City Council, the better it will be. Bodies like the newly announced Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority need to be truly accountable to Cantabrians. In the Minister’s statement today, he did not really give any idea—and I support what Charles Chauvel said—of when the national state of emergency will be ended, or even what criteria will be used to end it. The Greens have been asking written questions on that, and we have not had any real reply. The plan for the regeneration of Christchurch, particularly the central business district, needs to be locally driven. Kennedy Graham and the Greens in Christchurch are helping by planning a series of forums to gather ideas for rebuilding the city on a sustainable basis. We always need to be mindful of the huge challenges being faced by the people of Christchurch and our responsibilities as a nation to help them. Christchurch businesses and workers will need substantial financial support for a long while yet, which is why the Greens are pressing for a national earthquake levy on higher-income earners. We cannot see how the money for that support will be generated in any other way to a sufficient amount. We cannot just say to Christchurch businesses and workers that they will get 3 months worth of income support and then they are on their own or on the dole. We do support the extension of the state of emergency, but we would like more information in future. Thank you.