$300m for quake fund
Progress on a new stadium appears to be the big win for Christchurch from the first Labour Budget for a decade.
Alongside a new insurance tribunal and cash to help patch up healthcare and school building deficits, the Government has delivered the city its promised
$300 million to hurry the rebuild. However, there was no sign of
$100m transport cash promised to the city by Labour last year.
Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods said the stadium was likely to be ‘‘the first cab off the rank’’ from the rebuild fund.
Intended for items such as the stadium, residential red zone and infrastructure repair, the rebuild money will go to Christchurch City Council on a project-by project basis, and will be available in the upcoming financial year.
The city can choose priorities but needs government sign-off and business cases showing strong economic, social or environmental benefits. Woods said the Crown and council would work together on the stadium business case as soon as council’s
2018-19 budget was set.
The council will put $253m towards the stadium, which could cost up to $500m, with the Government bound by a cost-sharing agreement to contribute.
Mayor Lianne Dalziel said with certainty about the Government’s stadium contribution, the business case would reveal ‘‘what the appetite is for private -sector involvement as well’’.
Dalziel also said the fund was
only part of what the city needed, and she looked forward to ‘‘meeting the Minister to continue to work towards a global settlement for Christchurch’’.
ChristchurchNZ chief executive Joanna Norris said the funding would give the private sector confidence to invest, while Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leeann Watson said businesses needed to see ‘‘a strong pathway’’ towards infrastructure investment ‘‘to ensure we are on the events calendar again in Christchurch’’.
Among other items in Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s Budget were $6.5m to establish and run a Christchurch insurance claims tribunal and $3.3m for an Earthquake Commission (EQC) inquiry.
Courts Minister Andrew Little said the tribunal would be ‘‘a vital part of helping people get their claims sorted’’. Woods said it would be ‘‘an active, individually case-managed resolution process for claimants and their insurers, as well as mediation services’’.
The independent inquiry could compel evidence, hold public hearings and get needed information, and would help direct changes to the EQC Act and a review of insurance contract law,
‘‘A vital part of helping people get their claims sorted.’’ Courts Minister Andrew Little on the EQC tribunal
A $62m injection into the Christchurch schools rebuild fund will provide some relief after Education Minister Chris Hipkins claimed last week the project was $215m short of what the previous Government promised.
Families in Christchurch will also get a share of increased funding for behavioural and learning support in early childhood centres, teacher aides, and specialist services for high-needs children.
The Budget did not deliver Labour’s pre-election commitment of an extra $100m for public transport in Christchurch.
Last year the party committed to the investment, which was to include commuter rail between Rolleston and the city. When the Government released its 10-year draft transport plan in April, Woods said money was ‘‘on the table for commuter rail in Christchurch’’, but it would not happen overnight.
The funds are expected to come from the $4 billion National Land Transport Fund, sourced from fuel tax, road user charges and registrations
Canterbury’s District Health Board will get a share of $100m committed nationwide for ‘‘additional deficit support’’. It is unclear how this support will be distributed among 16 of 20 boards forecasting a combined deficit of $189m, which could further balloon after nurses’ pay rises. Canterbury forecast a $58.5m deficit by year’s end, up from $53.6m expected in its annual plan.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on their way to presenting the Labour-led coalition Government’s first Budget in Parliament yesterday. Following is Greens co-leader James Shaw.