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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recovery bill needed because council too slow - Labour MP

Recovery bill needed because council too slow - Labour MP

Last updated 05:00 14/04/2011
A select committee hearing into Canterbury earthquake laws became briefly heated after an MP said the Christchurch City Council had been too slow to react after the first earthquake.

Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel, who was sitting on the local government and environment select committee hearing submissions on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill yesterday, said the new legislation was needed because the council failed to create an earthquake recovery management plan after the September 4 earthquake.

"You know that people blame the Christchurch City Council for the need for this legislation because you failed to come up with a plan after the earthquake," Dalziel told Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button.

Button responded by saying after the new council was elected in October, those issues were handled by "a structure above us" , a reference to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission.

The commission will be replaced by the new government agency.

After the hearing, Button said the new department would have been needed regardless of what did, or did not, happen after the September earthquake.

"I don't know what she's [Dalziel] on about," Button told The Press.

"We would have needed this legislation regardless, simply because of the magnitude of what happened and that the Government was always going to be paying for it [the rebuild and recovery]."

If the council had formed an earthquake recovery management plan after September 4, the events of February 22 would still have meant the proposed legislation was needed, Button said.

The select committee resumed its hearings in Wellington last night.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee rejected a call by the New Zealand Law Society call for the bill to be split in two, with the urgent powers dealt with now and longer-term insurance and compensation issues dealt with later. On the issue of compensation for affected land owners Brownlee said "we might need to move more quickly than a long legislative process might allow".

The minister said some Resource Management Act applications could be fast-tracked and they could include projects such as proposed subdivisions that did not immediately appear to be earthquake-related.

He was aware there could be some "opportunistic proposals". One he was aware of had come from well outside the quake-hit area, but he would not detail it.

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