Improving the latest Earthquake Recovery Bill

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.

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11 Comments Posted

  1. Good point David, would have been good to do more SOPs and specific additions to s70(6)(c)are also a good idea. So many amendments needed to fix this bill and so little time!

  2. I’ve just read the SOP on clause 70(3), it’s a good amendment but I doubt it will be passed (as I would imagine the government will oppose its breadth). Had the SOP moved specific additions of legislation to clause 70(6)(c) these would have had a greater chance of success, and at least would have forced the government to squarely confront the issue.

    Here’s hoping the clause 70(3) amendment is passed!

  3. Thanks for the great suggestions, agree with your ideas Graeme and David. We put in a amendment so that the Orders In Council could only change Acts listed in s70(3) i.e only acts relevant to the recovery. So they couldn’t change any of the Acts you outlined. Let see if it gets accepted!

  4. I agree entirely with Graeme, clause 70(6)(c) should be amended to include fundamental legislation such as:

    Human Rights Act 1993
    Abolition of the Death Penalty Act 1989
    Official Information Act 1982
    Ombudsmen Act 1975
    Habeas Corpus Act 2001
    Legislature Act 1908
    Judicature Act 1908
    Supreme Court Act 2003
    Judicial Conduct Commissioner and Judicial Conduct Panel Act 2004
    Those enactments listed under the heading “Constitutional enactments” in the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988, Schedule 1 (i.e. Magna Carta, Petition of Right, Act of Settlement, Royal Marriages Act etc).

    At the very least, the Greens moving these amendments in the Committee of the Whole House would challenge the Government to either protect these fundamental statutes or take the public flack of expressly voting against their protection.

  5. Thanks Ken for being so clear about getting what Cantabrians need, not just what Canterbury business-owners and Government control freaks want.

    This is an almost mirror situation to the rush-through of draconian legislation by the Bush Administration in the wake of 9/11 – what, did somebody send the Nat’s a primer on how to take advantage of citizens in shock following a major catastrophe?

    No amount of browbeating and harassing poor people who’ve lost their homes will solve those problems! Some of this ‘urgently needed legislation’ is being slid past us under the guise of civil defense recovery, when it has nothing whatsoever to do with rebuilding this shattered community.

    Newsflash, Mr Key – nature causes earthquakes, not insufficiently subdued citizens. We use science to understand the parameters of earthquakes, and building science to improve standards so that the next time, it won’t damage so much.
    This used to be done by a couple of public service departments – Min of Works building research centre in Gracefield, Lower Hutt, and Geographical and Nuclear Sciences also in Gracefield. I’ve seen GNS evaluations, but MOW Gracefield seems to be very silent on this one, so I expect it’s been disestablished. BRANZ is the other major standard-setting authority, but they are mainly involved in housing, not commercial buildings, as I understand it.

  6. Lianne Delziel spoke well too but Kennedy’s speech was definitely easier to follow and a clear analysis of what was wrong and what needed to be done. Excellent stuff.

  7. Totally agree. I posted Kennedy’s speech on my Facebook page and on another forum I participate in too, and it’s getting great feedback. I feel very strongly that our decision to oppose was the right one.

  8. Just listened to Kennedy’s speech on this bill. Gotta say he made me proud to be Green. What a brilliant thoughtful, eloquent speech that exactly modelled the kind of Green Party I want to be part of. It wasn’t sniping or snide. It wasn’t negative or aggressive. It wasn’t making anyone ‘wrong’ so he could be ‘right’. Just well-presented, reasoned statements. Thanks Kennedy!

  9. Can I recommend proposing amendments in the Committee of the Whole to add a large swathe of others enactments to the laws that cannot be amended by order-in-council:

    The Habeas Corpus Act;
    The Abolition of the Death Penalty Act;
    The Crimes of Torture Act;
    The Crimes Act;


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