Nothing new in big-talk Brownlee's 'recovery programme'

Gerry Brownlee

A so-called government economic growth strategy for Canterbury is little more than a check list of programmes already under way.

It comes on the same day as the deadline for Christchurch schools to put in submissions on the government’s education “rejuvenation” reforms – closing or merging up to 32 schools in the city.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce announced 20 key projects in their Canterbury Economic Recovery Programme.

Mr Brownlee highlighted the $20 billion to $30 billion cost – figures they have estimated since the February 2011 earthquake and which include insurance payouts and infrastructure work that is well under way.

The announcement does not include any new funding initiatives.

The full report is available at

The document contains many of the planning policy dense language and diagrams reminiscent of the government’s Canterbury education reform information.

For example, under the heading of “central and local government actions”, the reports says, “Develop a communication plan for the ERP and key actions; continue to engage with PEPR and the wider business community on the ERP to ensure it is responsive to business needs and priorities in relation to recovery; commitment needed from business – businesses engage with and support the ERP; key partners, including PEPR members and businesses, communicate about the ERP to their networks; PEPR continues to review the ERP projects to ensure they remain relevant and Current (sic)”.

The education programme states – “Work with business/industry, the CTA, the Tertiary Education Commission and the CESB to identify the skill needs of the rebuild and wider recovery so these can be addressed in a timely manner (link to Project 3); Identify wider opportunities for the tertiary education sector to drive innovation and economic growth and support providers to work together to capitalise on opportunities (link to Project 10).

“What would indicate success? Public tertiary institutions are sustainable, with stable and growing enrolment numbers, engage with community and industry, and attract high-quality staff...”

Under economic growth initiatives the document highlights the Canterbury Water Management Strategy that has been evolving over the past five years with plans for more irrigation schemes.

Mr Brownlee paid tribute to the author of the report, Steve Wakefield and his Economic Recovery team within the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Mr Wakefield was this week awarded the 2012 Chartered Accountant of the Year.

He won the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants top gong in its annual Leadership Awards.

Mr Wakefield has worked with CERA since mid-2011 and is returning to his normal job at Deloitte.

Meanwhile, a change that will adversely affect the rebuild was revealed yesterday as the commissioner of Inland Revenue announced that accommodation allowances for rebuild workers would be taxed as income.

The move has major implications for thousands of people who are already working in Christchurch and for others considering moving to the city.

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We might as well read the Fletcher forward work programme as listen to the Brownlee / Joyce PR machine.

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Yep, all fluff and no substance. The underlying regional economy is stuffed (apart from dairying) and no amount of temporary stimulus is going to alter the underlying downward trend of economic activity in Christchurch. Reduced adminstrative services, tourism and manufacturing - the real economy (as opposed to the temporary "hit" from the rebuild) - means reduced economic growth, fewer long-term jobs and declining population over the longer term.

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Brownlee has to be the most glaring example of a number of ministers who are so far out their depth. It is so distressing to have our city's future reliant on this bumbling clown. This "economic growth strategy" shows that he does not understand the meaning of strategy, and lacks the ability to provide meaningful initiatives. A lap dog for Steven Joyce.

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We suffered nine years of so-called ministers who were well out of their depth, starting at the top with the then PM!

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It would be good to see the results of this talk rather than the talk itself.
Results are what count, talk is cheap.

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