[Sitting date: 02 August 2012. Volume:682;Page:4239. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Labour—Christchurch East) to the
Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: Which of the assets identified by CERA in response to his request has he ruled out asking Christchurch City Council to sell?
Hon AMY ADAMS (Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery) on behalf of the
Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: As I have already made clear in answers to question No. 2 today, the Minister has received advice from Treasury and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority that considers the financial position of the Christchurch City Council in the context of its ability to meet its rebuild obligations. These reports do not consider the sale of individual council assets and do not recommend the sale of any assets. Instead, the advice suggests that the Christchurch City Council should consider all of its options to fund its share of the rebuild.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: When was the Christchurch City Council first advised of the specific details of the council’s anchor projects that it would have to fund itself, and what the mayor has called “the gap between what the council can afford and what’s outlined in the [Government’s] plan.”?
Hon AMY ADAMS: I cannot give the member the specific date, but what I can tell the member is that we have been working with the Christchurch City Council comprehensively through the development of the blueprint in the plan, and, furthermore, that the council is very well aware that the assets identified as anchor projects in the plan have been blocked for location, with a clear understanding of all parties that each one of those assets, be they centrally led assets or civic assets, will now have to go through a specific design process. It is through that design process that final costings will become known.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: What was the reaction of the council members when he met privately with the Christchurch City Council on the Thursday before the public announcement to tell them the news, and when they told him that it was going to cost them another $1 billion?
Hon AMY ADAMS: I cannot advise, as I was not physically present at the meeting. What I can tell the member, though, is that the Christchurch City Council has acknowledged to us that it is entirely reasonable that the Government would want it to demonstrate that it has considered all of its options when it comes to funding of the projects that it is responsible for, and that the Government is correct in expecting that the council would demonstrate that, before it were to seek any additional funding from the Government.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Can the Minister confirm that when he met with the council on the Friday he was able to give it a reassurance that the difference was not the $1 billion that it had been advised the night before, but he had managed to get it down to $100 million, and what is the gap that the Christchurch City Council is expected to fund?
Hon AMY ADAMS: Can I reiterate once more that the final costings for these assets is a long way from determined, and will not be determined until we go through a process of final design specifications and costings for each asset. The member should be aware that when we launched the blueprint, it was made very clear that it was a matter of identifying the locations for key assets—not the design of them, not the final configuration of them, and not the costings for them. The discussions we have had with the council have focused on the fact that the Government will certainly take the lead in the replacement of central government facilities, and that we expect the city council to be the lead agency in the delivery of the civic assets that are part of that plan.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Why did the Government announce the specific projects that will be civic assets when it had not even discussed them or the costings with the Christchurch City Council before it made the final decisions?
Hon AMY ADAMS: I reject that entirely. The Christchurch Central Development Unit, which compiled the blueprint, was made up of a collaboration of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority officials and Christchurch City Council officials. The point was made repeatedly at the launch that the Christchurch City Council had been intimately involved in the formation of the plan, and it is well aware of the proposals, to the extent of listing its contributions to them in its annual plan. So to suggest that it had no idea that it would be called upon to fund them is simply wrong.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know it is difficult because the Minister is not the Minister who would normally be answering the question, but it has been made clear in the public arena that the officials who were seconded to the Christchurch Central Development Unit were sworn to secrecy. They had to sign a gagging order—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is not a matter of order in this House. The member asked questions and has received answers, and I can see that some of the answers have surprised the member asking the questions, but that is what asking questions and getting answers is about. The point of order is not a valid point of order.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I will hear further from the member.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: I am not trifling with the Chair; I am just trying to get an understanding. I used the phrase “Christchurch City Council”, but I am referring to the council, not to staff members who are seconded, and I just wonder whether the question has been answered in the context that it was given.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, on my listening to the answer given, I believed the question had been answered. I could see the member was surprised by the answer given, but an answer to the question was given. The member does have further supplementary questions, though, to pursue the matter should it be of paramount importance to sort that detail out, but it cannot be done by way of point of order.