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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Law Society calls for discussion over Christchurch buildings' future

Law Society calls for discussion over Christchurch buildings' future

Last updated 05:00 09/03/2011
Major decisions about Christchurch's future are being made by only a handful of people, a national legal watchdog says.

But the criticism levelled by the New Zealand Law Society was not well received by Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

The society yesterday said issues surrounding access to central city buildings and threats to demolish most of the city's heritage buildings were of great concern.

Society president Jonathan Temm also said the national state of emergency should be scaled back to a regional emergency to stop "certain persons making executive-type decisions on their own".

"I am concerned that the discussion around the future of heritage is not rushed," he told The Press yesterday.

Temm did not single out Brownlee who recently called for most of the city's heritage buildings to come down.

When asked to respond, Brownlee was not impressed.

"I'd say take the blinkers off, take the dark glasses off, and have a look at what's going on down here."

Temm said he had no evidence of any powers being abused. "It appears to me that certain persons are making executive-type decisions. I wonder if all the heat still exists for those very quick decisions to be made."

Temm said the city's first focus had rightly been on safety and rescue, but he questioned whether a national state of emergency and the power allocated to key decision-makers was needed two weeks later.

"The rule of law still applies and other voices need to be heard. We [the society] just want a two-sided conversation."

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