Chch rebuild companies will have to find skilled workers - English

Finance Minister Bill English

Companies that expect to be involved in rebuilding Christchurch will be responsible for ensuring they have the skilled workers they need, Finance Minister Bill English said.

He was questioned in Parliament yesterday about figures showing carpenters, plumbers and other building trade professionals left for Australia last month at a rate of 20 a day.

Labour's finance spokesman, David Cunliffe, wanted to know how companies were going to cope with that sort of exodus.

"Of course it will be tight, because they are competing with very, very large salaries, particularly those in Western Australia where something like $250 billion worth of capital projects are in the pipeline," Mr English said.

"In the first place, it is the responsibility of the companies that expect to rebuild Christchurch to ensure that they have the skills."

The latest migration statistics, released yesterday, showed a net outflow of 3300 migrants to Australia last month, up from 1700 in May 2010 and higher than the previous May record of 2900 in 1979.

Mr Cunliffe said "the real truth" was that Kiwis were fed up with the Government's rhetoric and were voting with their feet.

"The National Government has done nothing to help create jobs and continues to do little about closing the wage gap (with Australia) which now stands at 30 percent," he said.

ACT MP John Boscawen asked Mr English whether the gap had narrowed or widened since National came to power.

Mr English said he couldn't give precise figures.

"In any given year or two the gap might move one way or the other," he said.

"In the last quarter it has probably moved in favour of New Zealand."

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15 Comments & Questions

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The Government needs to get real

Firstly many of us in Christchurch will do a runner as soon as we can or as soon as we get paid out - depending on the level of damage to our respective properties.

This will result in only a small shortage of houses as those who stay will be able to purchase our houses. For example if 10% leave that's 20,000 houses available and we are currently looking at 12000 houses to be condemned.

As far as tradesmen go, the rhetoric locally about 20,000 tradesmen coming in to help the rebuild, I think that is rather hopeful. Sure the CBD needs rebuilding but that will not happen overnight - it will be staged over 5 to 10 years.

There is no chance families will move to Christchurch with the tradesmen. The tradesmen will either commute from other regions and leave their families in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Or the tradesmen will be migrants from Asia or the Pacific Islands etc - who are coming for the money.

Christchurch is dead quite frankly and will shrink from where it was pre September last year. The mood here is not good and even the most loyal are seriously looking at how to exit or would if they could.

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Oh wow! This is the best that Labor can do? Blame the earthquake on the government?

What does that poor prick Cullen have to say about all this?

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Where does Bill English think these skilled workers coming from? His government has driven them all away. Perhaps they'll be Chinese, like the railways contract.

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What surety are the Chch residents getting should the reconstruction are not up to standards? Sack the "supposedly responsible" companies?

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Tradesmen what tradesmen,auckland can not get proper TRADESMEN,workers yes ,

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"If you build it they come will come" (Field of Dreams)

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There certainly is going to be a massive shortage of trades people. Good luck Christchurch.

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Bit late Mr English. You didn't want them so some have gone to AUS and elsewhere and other's packing up to go. All have got contracts and better pay.

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Its a shame now that everyone attacks everyone over the CHC earthquake. Cunliffe your looking stupid. It is very easy to say something is not working, but can you tell us what will? I don't think so!
If your not part of the solution YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

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Labour are amazing - they obstruct any moves to reform the economy and get things moving then whinge that not enough is being done.

National commission a report on how the economy can be improved then bin it without even reading the table of contents for fear of upsetting anybody.

Meanwhile the electorate slides further into fear and depression and the exodus continues.

Happy days!

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Both Labour and National are guilty of thinking short term and not long term.

What New Zealand needs is a legacy Government - one that makes bold long term decisions - whether it be to support trades training or more importantly create an export related business environment. Some decisions required won't be popular but are the only way to get the economy on track to provide for our future generations.

This isn't happening - we have trade agreements but if the export sector isn't supported in terms of innovation and the appropriate skills available, exporters can't grow a profitable business. The currency is also an issue and at the whim of the global FX punters and investment banks. the whole FX markets are buggered and the Euro has not worked for the same reason as the NZD is being played with.

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I am a fan of the free market however an event like this requires a military style government response. If this is left to the "companies" you will have one of two outcomes.

1. You will use New Zealand tradesmen who are already in short supply. This will cause wage inflation ad inflation generally plus the rebuild may take longer.

2. Use imported foreign labour. This will be cheaper and faster but does not seem in the best interests of country when the unemployment rate is still at 6.6%. The re insurance money will end going offshore with the workers.

The government should be taking a more military style approach to this rebuild. They should be enlisting school leavers and unemployed into free polytec courses in the trades, to build an army of labour to rebuild christchurch. Conscription is a serious option.

When the shaking stops (which it will) there should be a hum of activity in Christchucrh as the country mobilises all possible resources.

An event in New Zealands history that is similar in magnitude to a World War requires a coordinated military style response lead by government.

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We will probably soon see the contsruction sector lobbying government to allow them to use foriegn labour. They will be right in saying that we dont have the man power for this job and we will get wage inflation without foriegn labour.

As an alternative why doesnt government offer incentives/grants/scholarships to people training to do the work required. With the grants conditional on the tradesmen working for say five years in New Zealand once they are qualified?

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I wrote a letter to The Press a year or more ago. Skilled welder. Qualified. 4711 ticket etc. Redundant. Looks for a job here in Christchurch. Gets a job a $15.00 an hour. Says, no thanks. Goes to Oz and gets Aus$90.00 an hour. A totally true story. There were no replies to my letter.
We are importing 'workers' who have few or no skills. Many have no brawn. We need both. Many of the imports are 'remittance men', and women. Daddy pays. So they can live on jobs that do not pay a living wage.
I know carpenters who, at this moment, are off to Oz. My bathroom needs fixing. Urgently. But it cannot be done. The whole house has to be fixed. Hence I do not have a working bathroom. We should be able to do small jobs now. Keep our tradesmen. But our policy prevents it! Ray Spring, Christchurch.

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team of 22 trademens been here in chch had a gutful of the wanna be project managers/and wanna be companies/down here.We gave our all to this town just to be treated like crap..North Island trades guys dont waste your time down here.

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