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Brownlee to appeal Outcasts' win - no quick fix

Canterbury’s Quake Outcasts will have a long wait for any compensation.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has confirmed he will appeal the judicial review and the judgment by High Court Justice Graham Panckhurst made in favour of 46 Outcast claimants.

In a terse response he says he does not know how much it will cost or how long it will take.

But a community leader and clergyman Mike Coleman is calling on Mr Brownlee to accept the judgment.

Mr Coleman says the decision is clear and he and his team would be extremely disappointed if Mr Brownlee attempted to put people crippled by his original decision in 2011 through another distressing court proceeding.

“The Government offer to affected people in the area of the red zone has been judged as being unfair; going against the basic human rights of those seriously affected in the Canterbury earthquakes,” he says.

“Ordinary Cantabrians, represented by the Outcasts Group, stood to lose much of their properties equity and it would be a further slap in the face should Mr Brownlee decide to appeal this decision and continue the stress and pain even longer,” he says.

Mr Coleman says Mr Brownlee could show a real sense of justice and a sincere focus on the recovery by accepting the court’s decision.

“In doing so, Mr Brownlee would enable the families, elderly and others who have been through a living hell over the last two and half years, to finally move on with their lives,” he says.

“The decision by Justice Panckhurst states clearly that the Earthquake Minister refused to use the powers of the Act that could have assisted this community, so he could make unfair offers for land. This amounted to coercion as people had no choice but to sell their properties.”

“It was clear from the beginning the Government wanted people off these areas. Even the words at the bottom of the offer stated, ‘if you do not accept this offer we can compulsorily acquire you’. The threat by the Prime Minister stating, there would be no infrastructural services available in these areas which created a fear among the community. In the end people felt they had no choice but to leave, and in the process lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the stress and extreme upset it caused,” Mr Coleman says.

More by Chris Hutching

Comments and questions

Just like a spoiled child, Gerry cannot take no for an answer. Let's see if the government can alter the decisions of justice, and spend some more of my money on the way.

I totally agree with you, fellow Taxpayer,

All National MPs are "birds of the same feathers" are really heartless spoil ed children.
Even if these victims have not insured their land and buildings for any reason whatsoever, the NZ GST Collector, National Government, and the Local Rate Collector, Christchurch Council should come up with a moral solution to compensate them, who have already suffered enough from these Natural Disasters.
Any further legal cases taken up by the NZ taxpayers against these poor and helpless victims should be avoided as these victims have already incurred substantial legal bills, and of course can hardly afford any more legal charges.

wait, so people didn't insure their houses / properties, unlike most people and despite the known risks of doing so and when they are offered money they are not owed, and they turn it down the one offering the money is the spoiled child?!

Methinks that any appeal will be based on advice given to the Minister by the governments legal counsel. In NZ everyone has the right to appeal. as Judges quite often get things wrong or set poor precedents.

Whilst it may be disappointing to the "Outcasts" whoever they are it is merely justice at work, warts and all.

Red zone is really the Dead zone & Brownlee is treating them as leper outcasts - shame. They are kiwis destitute not zombies

These land owners chose, for whatever reason, not to insure their land and buildings, and so have no EQC cover. That they are now trying to force a better deal for themselves, begs the question: why have insurance at all?, as now the Government [ read : you and me ] will bail us out as we were - too tight / selfish / having a good time spending our money, to insure.

Read the story - it was bare land. You cannot feasibly insure unimproved land

For people who had an unisured house in the red zone fair enough they should not expect any compensation for their house. But for people who bought sections and the land uninsured houses are on full RV should be paid on the land value. You can't withdraw services without paying rightful compensation. Gerry Brownlee and John Key have got this one very wrong and it will haunt them at the next election. If this was in America they would be sued. Lets see if our legal system can correct the wrongs of the Government.

I dont think this issue is as cut and dried as people like Mr Coleman would have us think. I didnt vote for Gerry but I will next time. He has consistently made tough decisions and kept things moving.
The leisure of hindsight he affords his critics is his legacy not theirs.
Thanks Gerry for your hard work in Canterbury.

While I have a lot of sympathy for these folks, they happen to have been thrown one of life's curve balls. If the Govt uses the PWA to compulsorarily acquire their land they are entitled to "market value" at the time of acquisition, plus some compensation for inconvenience. What is the market price of a piece of wrecked land? What is the inconvenience of Govt buying from you a piece of land you can no longer do anything with? I think the offer from Govt doesn't look too bad. Why should tax payers have to contribute more than what they would be otherwise entited to, unless they are really advocating that everytime someone has some bad luck the rest of use should restore the unfortunate to their original position?

These 'outcasts(?)' chose not to insure their homes, that was their choice; and now they are out of pocket, as the earthquake has damaged their houses, and damaged the ground even more; ground that should never have been built on in the first place.
This situation speaks volumes about the ineptitude of the Christchurch City Council engineers and planners.
Government has offered these people half the 2007 value of their uninsured homes; a very generous gift to individuals who were too foolish to insure their homes.
Christchurch residents would do well to consider what is the hidden agenda of the ideological advisors who are leading the so called outcasts. More about discrediting the govt., than helping the foolish.

If these same people happened to have a car crash and weren't wearing their seat belt and they were brain damaged or the like, does ACC say no we won't support you because you were foolish? No, and it's illegal to not wear a seat belt, but its not illegal to have an uninsured property. The Government has stuffed up somewhere don't you think?

This is the second time Brownlee and his cowboys have lost a case in ChCh. Remember recently the court had to stop him signing off on a development that went against his own rules
But then by the time people get through the incompetence of Brownlee, the EQC and their insurance they will realise that the entire system is designed to hurt them.
Be very scared NZ as this appears to be an acceptable way to treat people who have already been harmed...

CERA is threatening compulsory acquisition of areas in Central Christchurch having Designated the properties, having issued Notices of Intention to Compulsorily Acquire the properties and having approached the owners to sell.

CERA, Property Group and Buddle Findlay (the CERA Legal Advisors) will not use the word "Compensation" or agree to negotiate full compensation for the Property and Business Owners who are being dispossessed.

The Public Works Act and hundreds of years of Court precedent in the UK and NZ provide for full compensation for parties being dispossessed.

CERA say the CER Act only allows Compensation "after" the Property has been taken and no compensation for Insurable risk.

Government intervention is necessary to stop the absurd situation where reasonable and responsible without prejudice negotiation for full compensation (as is provided for under the Public Works Act) is prevented for Owners with existing businesses on existing property in Christchurch ..... until the properties have been taken.

CERA/Property Group are also saying the Minister has the right to determine final Compensation.

They are wrong the Court has the final determination on what Compensation is paid.

The owners have no option but to loose their properties to CERA.

CERA should forget the "willing buyer, willing seller concept it is trying to push while threatening compulsory acquisition as has been in the media of recent times.

In years past even the Public Works act was amended to provide a fair and reasonable amount for land/building to be taken for the public "good". The concept of a Minister Of the Crown standing in a court to explain an "illegal" decision is probably a good day, the lesson being the natives are not happy and you may have a used by date.

As callous as it sounds, these are the people who for what ever reason decided to not insure or self insure their properties or had vacant sections which require no insurance. For the latter I believe they are hard done by, but the others if you choose not to insure you take that risk, so why should we taxpayers have to pay them out as well as pay our own insurance.

Maybe all of us should choose not to pay insurance if the universal belief is that the taxpayer should compensate us fully when we have a loss. Therefore a part payment is actually better than what these people opted for when they decided not to take out insurance!!

The same people may return the complement if you are run over crossing the road the day after your life insurance expired (or any of the number of reasons why it was not in place...)

You cannot insure bare land. Agree re the people who have chosen not to insure their house. But EQC cover does not cover bare land.

There has been a condition on the PIMs of all Christchurch land for very many years warning prospective owners that it is subject to liquefaction, the owners lost their equity when the earthquake hit and the land was basically worthless, now they want you and me taxpayer to bail them out?

This is excellent news. I hope it goes all the way to the Supreme Court so the governmental corruption will be exposed at the highest level and widely publiscised. Well done to the applicants on their win!

Interesting that we can send $millions in aid overseas at times of natural disasters to people who we have no connection with but baulk at helping our own.

Two facts (and if you don't believe them read the judgement):

1. This judgement covers those who did not insure and those that could not insure. Some people could not insure, as insurance is not available for sections, and so also no EQC cover was available.

2. It was not the earthquakes which significantly (i.e by close to 50%) devalued the red zone properties. The cause of significant value loss was the declaration of the red zone by the government. Without this declaration water, roads and electricity services would, under law, have been required to be returned to these properties. The medium term loss in property value would have been relatively minimal (10-20% at most).

So for those who weren't able to insure, and suffered significant value loss due to the actions of government (or rather the actions of a select team of 12 ministers and not parliament) surely it is equitable for the government to compensate those property owners. I think we would all expect that if it occured to us.

For those who could have obtained insurance but choose not to, the question is more difficult and I can sympthsise with both sides. However the danger of a precedent being set is somewhat of a red herring - we all know that what is offered one day may not be offered the next, so a homeowner would be taking an enormous risk to assume a repeat compensation package for the next major disaster in NZ.

"Nobody will be out of pocket from this", especially not the Government.