Brownlee sets out CERA's transition from power

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee

Three years after setting up the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, its minister, Gerry Brownlee, has announced a pre-election transition promise.

CERA has little to show for its rebuild efforts but has conducted the demolition process and acquired land for various new projects in the central city.

Mr Brownlee appears to have responded to calls from Labour and local body politicians about restoring Christchurch City Council to its former authority.

He says CERA will become a departmental agency within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, similar to the move recently made by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

A transition plan will to hand over responsibility and powers from CERA to local government, other government agencies or other delivery vehicles.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011, which gives Mr Brownlee wartime powers, will be removed or scaled back.

An advisory group of local government and other stakeholders will be appointed to help guide the transition and review the CER Act powers.

“This is most certainly not a winding down of the government’s commitment to the recovery,” Mr Brownlee says in a prepared statement.

CERA and the CER Act were established in 2011. The CER Act expires in April 2016.

Anchor projects and infrastructure repairs will still be underway in 2016 and will be overseen by CERA, Mr Brownlee says.

Some powers will be needed beyond 2016 to ensure long-term recovery work is effective and maintains momentum, he says, “while other powers may need to be transferred to more permanent agencies.”

CERA will still have its own chief executive and work will continue as usual without any change to its funding from government.

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