The wheels have fallen off the Canterbury recovery.
Housing, the central city and EQC in particular have been abysmal failures.
There is a cacophony of voices speaking out against the National Government’s slow and mismanaged recovery. The blueprint is in tatters, the cost share agreement is looking increasingly wobbly, the central city is bleak, insurance is an ongoing saga, many in the community are at breaking point, and the Government is only tinkering around the edges of the housing crisis.
The earthquakes may have created the challenge, but the National Government has failed to step up to the challenge.
The Labour-led Government’s first 100 days in office must kick-start the Canterbury recovery and focus on building a faster and fairer recovery. We must give people hope that a better future is possible.
The top priorities must be solving the housing crisis, building a trusting partnership with the Christchurch City Council to move the central city Blueprint forward with buy-in from the community, and sorting out the ECQ and insurance mess.
Kiwibuild must be kicked off in the first 100 days. Canterbury will be a priority for Kiwibuild with 10,000 affordable homes built in Canterbury over the next four years. Plus, we need to urgently address social and emergency housing for earthquake and flood affected residents. Labour’s apprenticeship policy (turning the dole into apprenticeships) must also be fast-tracked to ensure we have the skilled people necessary for the rebuild and to give young people a future.
A number of these new homes must be built in the central city. Anchor projects alone will not revive the central city – the focus must be on building affordable homes and encouraging more people to live in the central city (the topic of a public meeting I ran with Phil Twyford a few weeks back). We need integrated planning to build communities – affordable housing, mixed use, planning for schools, early childhood centres, community gardens, affordable and efficient transport, etc.
The new Labour-led Government must immediately build a trusting relationship with the local Councils and re-orientate the recovery as a partnership. The central city Blueprint, anchor projects, and cost-share agreement need to be looked at with fresh eyes and an enduring consensus developed so that things can move forward with urgency. The rebuild should not be a battle between the Councils and the Government.
And legislation should be passed in the first 100 days to set up KiwiAssure, deal with insurance companies and set up a high-level inquiry into ECQ and insurance.
Labour will be announcing specific policy in these areas (and more) over the coming months.
Never has an election (and the first 100 days of a new Government) been more important for the future of a city and its people than 20th September 2014.