Official Information Request Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority Christchurch 19 September 2013 An open letter To Roger Sutton
Chief Executive Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) Dear Mr. Sutton, It saddens me to write this letter. I gave a presentation to the CERA community forum on 6 June 2013, expressing residents' concerns based on feedback I had received from several community groups. You were present at the forum. http://issuu.com/brightsidepublishing/docs/repairchch_145a674e4c9770 The presentation pointed out that the earthquake recovery appears to have been designed so that vulnerable people face the risk of significant property equity losses as land damage is being transferred to residents. Since my presentation, there have been further changes to the Building Act, with two new building consents being introduced that waive liability for the Building Consent Authority when repairs are carried out on homes with land damage, such as TC3 properties. The recent changes make vulnerable people even more vulnerable than before the changes. I believe these practices are unacceptable in any democratic society, especially in view of what people in Canterbury have suffered over the last 3 years, living in damaged houses on damaged land. It has been confirmed in the Christchurch Press 18. September that Westpac is refusing to accept buildings on the worst affected land as mortgage security. Residents are being denied access to the land information on the basis that they could use the information for financial gain. Yet the Crown has taken upon itself the right to sell this private information to banks. This raises the question of whether the Crown has breached the Privacy Act by selling private information for financial gain. Tens of thousands of people are affected here.
The CERA community forum was a safeguard provision included in the earthquake legislation and described as follows. Part 2 Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act. Functions and powers to assist recovery and rebuilding Subpart 1â€”Input into decision making by community and cross-party forums 6
Community forum 1. The Minister must arrange for a community forum to be held for the purpose of providing him or her with information or advice in relation to the operation of this Act. 2. The Minister must invite at least 20 persons who are suitably qualified to participate in the forum. 3. The Minister must ensure that the forum meets at least 6 times a year. 4. The Minister and the chief executive must have regard to any information or advice he or she is given by the forum
I presented the community's concerns about risk transfer. We have not seen any improvement in these practices and we are still waiting for the forum notices to be published. I have reiterated this request to three forum members and communicated with your social media team on Facebook. Still no information has been released. Over 100 days have passed, and looking at the forum notices, there seems to be more and more information being withheld from residents and the communities affected. Is the forum not specifically in place to provide support and information to the communities? http://cera.govt.nz/community-forum/notices I have given up asking politely on behalf of the residents who face this risk. I hereby lodge an official information Act request that ALL forum notices and minutes be released to the public and that full access be provided to ALL land information. I ask you to release what you are legally bound to release, not what you choose to release. Warwick Isaacs, CERA Acting Chief Executive on 26 April, declined my last request for documentation. It was then confirmed by the Ombudsman that CERA
had a legal obligation to release this information, and the information were released. It has now become known that EQC is proceeding with repairs without alerting insurance companies to the worst affected land damage. I consider that this constitutes gross negligence on the part of EQC - allowing repairs to proceed on properties where it is known that land remediation or even area wide land remediation is required to return the property to an insurable state. I would ask you to clarify how EQC can separate land damage from house damage, and repair the house but not the land, leaving the house at substantial risk and the property owner with a devalued home.
Yours sincerely Hugo Kristinsson Mayoral Candidate Christchurch Local elections 2013 www.votehugo.co.nz http://www.facebook.com/HugoforMayorForum www.empoweredchristchurch.co.nz