Mayor urges quake authority to get to work

5:00 pm on 31 March 2011

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says a new organisation responsible for the city's earthquake recovery has a huge responsibility to get the process under way as fast as possible.

The stand-alone Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) has been given wide powers to relax, suspend or extend laws and regulations in order to help the region recover from recent quakes.

A 7.1-magnitude quake hit Canterbury on 4 September last year, followed by a 6.3 quake on 22 February that caused severe damage and loss of life, particularly in Christchurch.

The authority was announced by the Government on Tuesday and has been established for five years, but will be reviewed annually.

Deputy state services commissioner John Ombler was named interim chief executive and expects to have a staff of about 50 people.

Businesses in Christchurch are concerned the new government department could be too bureaucratic to work effectively.

Mayor Bob Parker says the authority has a huge responsibility to get the process under way as fast as possible.

Mr Parker told Morning Report that the people of Christchurch need certainty and the authority's goal must be to get the city repaired swiftly.

"What we can achieve in this structure is the outcome that our community wants us to achieve," he said.

"That is to get the city back up, build it better, improve people's lives, make sure that it's an economic force in the future and that it doesn't sit here for the next six to 12 months while people have a talkfest."

The Christchurch City Council is determined to consult with residents as much as possible, especially in the rebuild of the central city, he says.

The chairperson of the Canterbury Business Recovery Network, Matthew Carpenter, says the centralised department needs to work fast.

Mr Carpenter says his group has experienced long delays in hearing back from the government departments it has written to, which he believes is a sign of red tape.

Expo on inner-city planned

Mr Parker also says he is keen to organise a huge expo to kick-start the rebuilding of the inner city.

He says such an expo would provide a platform for the public to share their views on how they think the city should look in the future.

Ideas from it would be gathered by the city council and put into a draft document that would be sent out to the public for comment.

Mr Parker hopes the council will finalise its plans in the next six to seven months.