23 Jul 2013

Greens advocate levy to boost disaster fund

4:12 pm on 23 July 2013

The Green Party's Russel Norman says an earthquake levy would be the best way to replenish the natural disaster fund to pay for claims to the Earthquake Commission.

Russel Norman.

Russel Norman. Photo: RNZ

Prime Minister John Key says the Government will top-up the fund if necessary to cover claims from Sunday's 6.5 magnitude earthquake that hit Wellington and Marlborough or any future events.

Greens' co-leader Russel Norman said on Tuesday that would mean the Government would have to borrow money and it would be better to build up the fund through a levy, which would involve a temporary tax increase for higher income earners.

Dr Norman said the Green Party has argued for the levy for some time and it is fiscally prudent to put money aside to cover the cost of big quakes.

Meanwhile, the Earthquake Commission is shrugging off concerns about the economic impact. Buildings in central Wellington are being assessed following the tremor in Cook Strait. The epicentre was about 20km from the Marlborough town of Seddon and there continues to be aftershocks.

The commission says the costs of these quakes will be payable, despite financial presssure from the devastating quakes in Canterbury in 2010 and 2011.

EQC is expected to have to ask the Government for a billion dollar top-up by 2015 to pay for the final cost of the Canterbury quakes.

Since the Canterbury quakes, EQC has secured $3.25 billion in reinsurance cover to meet new claims. It would still have to find money to pay an excess on those claims.