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Labour targets earthquake recovery bodies as 'undemocratic'

Administration of the post-earthquake recovery effort in Canterbury has become an election issue, with Labour wanting to make appointees to the government department in control and curbing the minister's powers.

In response, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has fended his role and the government's performance.

Labour leader David Cunliffe says his party will restore the rights of Cantabrians to make their own decisions by winding down CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority), cancel its extraordinary powers and restore democratic elections for regional council ECan.

He says it’s time power was returned to the people. He has pledged a Labour government will immediately appoint a board of qualified locals with relevant skill and experience to govern CERA.

“Members will be tasked with overseeing the smooth transition of CERA and the return of its powers and responsibilities to appropriate and competent local organisations," he says.

“My team and I are also committed to working alongside Christchurch’s mayor and councillors to come up with a fair and sustainable solution to the city’s ballooning debt, largely a consequence of a government-imposed cost-sharing arrangement.

“For almost four years Cantabrians have had the right to determine what they want for their communities over-ridden by a law which gives extraordinary powers to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and the Earthquake Recovery Minister.”

Mr Brownlee says Labour has again shown it has no grasp of the issues that are important to Cantabrians.

“This policy is the latest fizzer in a long line of announcements that show Labour really has no idea what Christchurch needs,” he says.

He says Labour’s announcement comes down to a "discussion" with the Christchurch City Council and is an unnecessary new layer of governance.

“Establishing a governance board to manage the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority will not achieve anything for the people of Christchurch," he says.

“It should also not be forgotten that CERA employees are almost all residents of Christchurch, who have a clear understanding of local issues, and certainly feed this into their work.”

Jason Walls is an AUT journalism student

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Comments and questions

Pork barrel politics at its worst, If this is not buying votes then what is. Whilst giving the decision back to a Labour appointed board, there is nothing in his conversation that says this will work any better. Its just vote buying as have been all policies so far. Its Labour at its best spend, spend ,spend knowing they may get a couple of terms to do this, then let National back in to clean up the mess over the next couple of terms then the merry go round starts again.

Mr Cunliffe fails to acknowledge that it has been wonderful having an organisation that can get things done in Christchurch without all of the usual bureaucratic delays and pandering to the CAVE people (citizens against virtually everything).
Long live CERA.

Maybe the CERA members could come to Auckland to sort out the financial mess our democratically elected council has got us into.

The notion that somehow the CCC could have managed the earthquake recovery is absurd.
Two minutes on the back of a GST receipt would show new organisations with complete focus were required.

I hears CERA was needed because not only the scale of the disaster was so huge, but the utter internal dysfunction of CCC meant there was too much paralysis by analysis, with nothing getting done. Then the Regional Council weren't much better.

Combined, it was classic Omni-Cluster stuff requiring a CERA to actually get something done.

Now, surprise, surprise Cunliffe and Labour are trying to say their Labour Mayor will be more productive and effective? Yeah Right. Next they'll try and tell you unions actually help with productivity!