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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Handling of earthquake recovery 'negligent'

Handling of earthquake recovery 'negligent'

Last updated 05:00 28/04/2011
Government and Christchurch officials were "negligent" in how they handled the post-earthquake recovery, a city MP said in a scathing speech last night.

In an address that was to be delivered to the Christchurch branch of the New Zealand Fabian Society, Christchurch East Labour MP Lianne Dalziel slammed the Government and the Christchurch City Council for its "litany of failures" after the two major quakes.

The Government managed to "render inactive" a world-class civil defence and emergency management system and the council "topped the Government on the negligence stakes" when it did not take over leading the recovery, she said.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said last night that he did not want to get "dragged into a slanging match" with Dalziel, but he disagreed with her criticism.

Dalziel said the recovery process never began after the September quake.

"What went wrong provides the basis for one of the lessons we must learn from Christchurch so that we can ensure that it does not happen again."

That "inadequate process" led to added confusion and effectively unravelled the recovery planning processes already in place. "It wasn't deliberate but it was negligent."

The council had "happily endorsed" a recovery model that was the "antithesis" of international best practice.

"[It] potentially alienates from the process the very communities to whom they owe their mandate to sit at the council table," she said.

"There is a litany of failures that have combined to drain away what is the lifeblood of a community in recovery, and that lifeblood is hope for the future."

Communities needed to be inspired and believe life was going to get better, she said.

"We need milestones that enable us to celebrate along the way because it is going to be a long, slow, arduous journey and we know there will be setbacks along the way."

Dalziel said her main message was that the city wanted its "earthquake legacy" to be a powerful message of recovery leading to new opportunities.

"What has happened in Christchurch is a disaster but it does present us with the chance to become more resilient as a city and as a country."

Parker said he was proud of the council and other agencies, including the Government, for their performance.

"But my focus is on the now and where we are going as a community and a city."

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