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Answers for some in Chch tomorrow, but many will remain in the dark


Some Christchurch residents will know tomorrow if their property can be rebuilt or not, but not all. Labour's Clayton Cosgrove goes on the attack.

NZPA and NBR staff
Wed, 22 Jun 2011

Some Christchurch residents will know tomorrow if their property can be rebuilt or not, but many will remain in the dark.

Owners have been pleading for weeks to be told whether they can repair or rebuild their homes, or will have to abandon them because the land is unstable after a series of quakes since September, including one in February that killed 181 people.

Prime Minister John Key and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee will tomorrow afternoon give an update on the state of land and present options for some insured homeowners.

"This announcement will provide some certainty for residents in the worst affected areas, and will give them options for their immediate future," Mr Brownlee said.

"We will be releasing the most up-to-date information we have about the state of the land in greater Christchurch."

A website and call centre operational from tomorrow would enable residents to find the status of their land and a series of community meetings would be held.

Prime Minister John Key said the June 13 aftershocks meant more work had to be done getting information on some areas, as they were further damaged.

"But for those that are in the worst affected areas we will be able to give greater clarity."

For some they would know whether that meant staying or going.

"We recognise the anxiety levels, we realise this has been a very stressful time for people, they need to be able to make decisions, we appreciate that fully."

The Government has faced criticism over its handling of the information.

Labour attacks
Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said it was good information was finally being made public and the government had confirmed tomorrow's announcement after days of speculation, but also put heat on the government.

“John Key made the commitment after the September quake that no one in Canterbury would be left worse off. Tomorrow will be another acid test of that commitment," said Mr Cosgrove, a TelstraClear executive before he won his Christchurch seat.

"It is still not clear just what level of detail will be provided tomorrow -- whether there will be more grey than black and white -- but it can be presumed that John Key wouldn’t finally be fronting up without a plan to announce."

The government did not intend to do a mailout but Social Development Ministry staff would call vulnerable people, such as the elderly, to make sure they got the information.

Mr Cosgrove was concerned that not everyone who needed a call would get one.

Mr Brownlee fronted to Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee this morning with Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) boss Roger Sutton.

He faced questions from Labour MPs about information flows to Christchurch residents and businesses and argued that enormous efforts were being made.

"People are clambering all the time for definitive answers we are in the catch 22 situation where a definitive answer today cannot stand as an answer a day later," he said.

"It would be completely inappropriate for us to fix a position for somewhere like Kaiapoi without having all the information."

Mr Cosgrove said it hadn't helped that when asked about some areas not being remediated, Mr Brownlee said it was "blindingly obvious" that would be the case, yet residents did not have that information.

Mr Brownlee said plans to communicate were made, but thrown out by subsequent quakes.

"You just can't win here, it might do some political damage but I can't sleep at night if we make a decision for a political reason that ultimately costs people."

The minister said he would look into concerns raised that the Earthquake Commission was not being honest about where some claims were at, but he defended it saying the organisation was dealing with 400,000 separate claims.

Finance Minister Bill English said there were insurance implications for all quake victims.

"I think whatever decisions are made tomorrow, the fundamental fact is there's been a high number of significant earthquakes and that could have an impact for insurance not just in Christchurch, but across the rest of New Zealand."

NZPA and NBR staff
Wed, 22 Jun 2011
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Answers for some in Chch tomorrow, but many will remain in the dark
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