Brownlee admits receiving advice on Christchurch asset sales

6:06 am on 2 August 2012

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister has been forced to concede in Parliament he has received official advice on Christchurch City Council selling some of its assets to help pay for rebuilding the city.

Gerry Brownlee has also indicated he supports the idea of selling the assets, saying the council has built up a strong set of books to provide for a rainy day.

Mr Brownlee initially skirted around a Parliamentary question from Green MP Eugenie Sage about whether he had received advice on the potential sale of council assets.

But after being forced to concede he had, he then went on to suggest there would be discussions with the council about the matter.

Chamber of Commerce urges asset sales

The Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce has said the council must consider selling assets to bankroll the rebuilding of the city centre.

Chief executive Peter Townsend says a blueprint for the rebuild released on Monday contains critical pieces of infrastructure vital to the quake-hit city's recovery.

They include a convention centre, a covered sports stadium and precincts for arts, health and justice, but the Government has not yet revealed the full cost of building those items.

Mr Townsend says the Government has already channelled $12 billion - comprising $7 billion from EQC and $5 billion Government funding - into the rebuild.

He says the private sector and local government must now consider all options to pay for the construction of long-term infrastructure.

City councillor Yani Johanson says it is likely ratepayers will foot much of the bill to rebuild the city centre.

Mr Johanson is calling for the Government to release the full cost of the new blueprint.

He told Nine to Noon the Government has indicated the council and private sector are expected to pay for the facilities, which include a new convention centre and sports stadium.

The council increased rates by 7.8% after the earthquakes. Mr Johanson says that without seeing the rebuilding price tag, the council is flying blind.

He says it is ironic the Government is telling councils around the country to tighten their belts while at the same time encouraging Christchurch City Council to spend up large.