10 Feb 2016

CERA defends $2.5m PR bill

6:31 pm on 10 February 2016

The head of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority is defending his organisation's multi-million dollar public relations bill.

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

At its annual review by the Government Administration Select Committee today, CERA acting chief executive John Ombler confirmed the organisation spent more than $2.5 million on public relations in the last financial year.

Labour MP Megan Woods during caucas run April 2015.

Megan Woods Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Within that, in addition to having 19 in-house communications staff, CERA spent $1.6m on external public relations consultants and media agencies.

Labour's Canterbury spokesperson, Megan Woods, said people in Christchurch did not need spin doctors, they needed progress on the rebuild.

"What Cantabrians want to see is some progress on the anchor projects. They want to see the business cases for the 11 of the 16 anchor projects that don't have them completed.

"They don't need glossies, they don't need spin, they need their city recovered."

But Mr Ombler said it was vital CERA kept the public up-to-date on progress.

"We're not just spinning good stories. This is about putting out the exact story to people all the time honestly."

Mr Ombler also told MPs it was too early to say whether Christchurch would get a convention centre.

He expected an announcement in the first half of 2016 on whether the convention centre would go ahead.

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