We want to give Cantabrians all the help they need to rebuild their earthquake-ravaged city, but the Bill in front of Parliament today doesn’t do the job.
There’s too much power vested in too few people for too long.
We very cautiously supported the first recovery Bill last year while flagging serious constitutional concerns.
But the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill (CER) in front of Parliament now is bigger and broader and longer-lasting. As a result, our concerns are greater.
So we plan to oppose at first reading but will then work to revise the bill. With changes, we might be able to support it into law.
A new entity is a good idea and it requires greater powers than is normal to respond to the crisis, but the CER bill does not contain enough democratic oversight or enough checks on the use of the extensive powers given to Canterbury Earthqauke Recovery Authority/Gerry Brownlee.
Here are a few ways in which the Bill can be improved:
The role of the community forum could be strengthened, and some additional steps taken to ensure that it is a representative body.
The power of the Council is also very limited under this bill and can be strengthened.
There needs to be geographical and subject limitations on orders in council i.e. covering only the greater Christchurch region and only legislation that is relevant to the rebuild.
The CER bill would also benefit from some criteria for when and why the CE/Minster can exercise their extensive powers.
And we’d like to see the ability to repeal CER Bill early written in to the law.
It remains to be seen how much headway we can make with the Government.
If you have other specific suggestions on how to improve the legislation, submit them here as a comment. We’ll see what we can do in the hustle and bustle that will accompany the passage of the law here in the next few days.