$300m to speed up project work

The Southland Times - - National News / Budget 2018 - Liz McDon­ald and Tracy Watkins

The Bud­get has set aside $300 mil­lion to ac­cel­er­ate the Can­ter­bury earth­quake re­cov­ery. The Gov­ern­ment will also es­tab­lish an in­sur­ance claims tri­bunal and an Earth­quake Com­mis­sion (EQC) in­quiry.

In­tended for items such as the planned sta­dium and res­i­den­tial red zone, the $300m will be passed on to the Christchurch City Coun­cil on a project-by project ba­sis.

The money will be avail­able in the up­com­ing fi­nan­cial year.

‘‘This fund is be­ing guided by what the peo­ple of Christchurch want,’’ Christchurch Re­gen­er­a­tion Min­is­ter Me­gan Woods said.

‘‘While all the projects will of course need sat­is­fac­tory busi­ness cases, we are not mak­ing Can­ter­bury de­ci­sions from Welling­ton.

‘‘Projects which might ben­e­fit from the ac­cel­er­a­tion fund in­clude com­ple­tion of the sta­dium and fi­nanc­ing new uses for the res­i­den­tial red zone.’’

Woods said the coun­cil could ‘‘ap­ply for cap­i­tal in­vest­ment through the fund to com­plete projects beyond the ar­range­ments al­ready fully dealt with in the cost shar­ing agree­ment with the Crown’’.

‘‘This will help speed up im­por­tant projects in our city.’’

Labour pledged the fund be­fore last year’s elec­tion, say­ing the city could choose pri­or­i­ties but would need Gov­ern­ment sig­noff.

It said then the spend­ing would be sub­ject to busi­ness cases show­ing strong eco­nomic, so­cial or en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits for the city.

Es­ti­mates of the sta­dium cost have been as high as $500m. The city coun­cil will put in $253m, with the Gov­ern­ment bound by a re­build cost shar­ing agree­ment to con­trib­ute. Plans for the land use in the res­i­den­tial red zone are still be­ing fi­nalised.

The Bud­get has also set aside $6.5m to es­tab­lish and run the earth­quake in­sur­ance tri­bunal.

Woods de­scribed it as ‘‘an ac­tive, in­di­vid­u­ally case­m­an­aged res­o­lu­tion process for claimants and their in­sur­ers, as well as me­di­a­tion ser­vices.’’

Courts Min­is­ter Andrew Lit­tle said the tri­bunal would be ‘‘a vi­tal part of help­ing peo­ple get their claims sorted’’.

Woods said the EQC in­quiry will cost $3.3m and is in­tended to ‘‘get to the bot­tom of what went wrong, so that we are bet­ter pre­pared for fu­ture dis­as­ters’’.

‘‘This in­de­pen­dent in­quiry will have the power to com­pel ev­i­dence, hold pub­lic hear­ings and en­sure all the in­for­ma­tion we need is put on the ta­ble’’.

She said the in­quiry will help with law changes to the EQC Act and to a planned review of in­sur­ance con­tract law.

The fi­nal terms of ref­er­ence and mem­ber­ship of the in­quiry will be an­nounced soon.

‘‘This will help speed up im­por­tant projects in our city.’’ Christchurch Re­gen­er­a­tion Min­is­ter Me­gan Woods

Some of the $300 mil­lion to ac­cel­er­ate earth­quake re­cov­ery will go to­wards a new sta­dium for Christchurch af­ter Lan­caster Park was dam­aged beyond re­pair in the 2011 earth­quake. GOOGLE EARTH

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