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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Labour finds fault with quake advisory group

Labour finds fault with quake advisory group

Last updated 05:00 30/03/2011
A cross-party group formed to advise the new Earthquake Recovery Authority has been dismissed as "meaningless".

Labour's earthquake recovery spokesman, Clayton Cosgrove, said yesterday the party would "give the bureaucrats a chance" and support the new structure announced yesterday.

However, Labour would propose "substantial amendments" to the legislation, expected before Parliament in two weeks.

"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," Cosgrove said.

A cross-party parliamentary group of list and electorate MPs from the greater Christchurch area was yesterday named as part of the quake recovery governance structure.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the group would be written into legislation and serviced by the new authority.

"It will have an ability to provide a flow of information and ideas through the process. No-one is claiming that they have a lock on how everything should be done here," he said.

Cosgrove dismissed the new group as "meaningless".

"It's another name for briefings, for goodness sake. The truth is that Mr Brownlee has not listened to any of the suggestions that we have made."

Cosgrove said the planned forum of community leaders proposed by Brownlee was also a concern.

"It is going to 20 anointed mates of Gerry Brownlee," Cosgrove said. "If he thinks that is going to provide grassroots engagement, then I don't think that is acceptable."

Prime Minister John Key said there would be enough support to pass the legislation, although he expected Labour to vote against it.

People would consider the success or otherwise of the structure on election day, Key said.

"One of the questions that Cantabrians will want to ask, is if this is not the plan and the right structure, then what is the right structure?" he said.

"If Labour want to put up an alternative, that's called democracy, but I think for the people of Canterbury, they will want to be absolutely sure that what they are replacing it with is better."

Green Party spokesman Kennedy Graham said the role of the cross-party group was unclear and might need to be strengthened.

"Having the people of Christchurch represented in the authority is vital. While the Government is making the right noises, we will be monitoring the new authority to try to make sure that it is accountable to Cantabrians," Graham said.

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