Update on EQC
It is great to hear that the Earthquake Commission (EQC)/ Fletcher Construction EQR process, for homes with damage under $100,000, has now completed the repairs to more than 1500 homes in the Selwyn electorate, with another 3500 currently in progress.
The EQC has been working hard to get through the more than 400,000 claims it has received since 4 September last year, both completing assessments and repairing those with damage estimated to be between $10,000 and $100,000. It’s encouraging to see the results of this in this electorate.
We have been fortunate that in Selwyn we have avoided the worst of the land damage, meaning that for most of us we are now able to get on with repairs. To date, the EQR process has paid $45.4 million for repairs to Selwyn homes, including $11 million in August alone. These payments are helping people in our electorate to get on with rebuilding their lives.
EQC has announced it has set a target of completing all of its full assessments by December 2011, and is working towards the same deadline to complete all contents claims.
More certainty for universities and polytechnics
The government has moved to give Canterbury’s tertiary institutions greater financial certainty as they work to recover from the effects of the September and February earthquakes. The government’s 2012 funding commitments, which were made prior to the 4 September 2010 earthquake, will be met despite an expected decrease in enrolments. While funding levels are normally linked to forecast enrolments, the government and the TEC Board recognise the important role Canterbury’s tertiary institutions will play in the region’s recovery.
Although we know student numbers are likely to be down in 2012, we also know Canterbury will need thousands of trained and qualified workers across a range of industries for the recovery. The University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) will receive a total of $191.2 million in 2012.
Economy still growing amid global uncertainty
The international situation continues to be highly volatile as the European Union and the United States struggle with high sovereign debt levels. Despite this uncertainty, our own economy is in good shape relative to most other countries. Our economy grew faster than forecast in the first half of 2011 – despite lower than expected growth in the June quarter, that global uncertainty, and the impact of two more devastating earthquakes in Canterbury.
The 1 per cent growth in the first half of the year compared with Treasury forecasts of 0.5 per cent. Lower than expected growth in the June quarter of 0.1 per cent shows the recovery remains patchy across different sectors. The economy has now grown in eight of the past nine quarters so we're in reasonably good shape. But we still face challenges such as the high Kiwi dollar. This reinforces the need for New Zealand to get on top of its longstanding reliance on debt, to continue to be very disciplined with Government spending and to build faster, more durable growth based on higher domestic savings and productive investment.
Lake Ellesmere Cleanup
Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is to be cleaned up with an $11.6 million plan involving Government, Ngāi Tahu, Environment Canterbury, Fonterra, Selwyn District Council, Lincoln University and the local community. The largest lake in Canterbury is an important link in the chain of coastal lagoons and estuaries along the east coast of the South Island, but over the past 50 years the water quality of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere has become the most trophic (a combination of pollution levels and water clarity) of New Zealand’s 140 lakes.
While land-use changes in the catchment and clearing of wetlands have hastened the lake’s deterioration in water quality with high nutrients and sediments, major damage to weed beds in the lake dates back to the Wahine storm of 1968. Their limited regeneration and water bird populations also contributed to a decline in water quality.
The $11.6 million committed to cleaning up the lake is made up of contributions of $6.1 million from the Government, $3.5 million from Environment Canterbury, $1.3 million from Fonterra, $500,000 from Ngāi Tahu and the balance from the Selwyn District Council, Waihora Ellesmere Trust and Lincoln University. There will also be a substantial commitment to the clean up from local volunteers.
This is the most significant fresh water clean up project New Zealand has undertaken, given the severity of the pollution and the size of the lake. It is part of a $94 million commitment of the National led Government to water clean up over a four year period.
Government reviewing agricultural transport rules
The Government will soon review transport rules affecting agricultural contractors and vehicles. National wants to make certain these rules are safeguarding the public without imposing unnecessary red-tape. Contractors and farmers need to harvest crops when they are ready, and when the weather is right. Sometimes this may mean working long and irregular hours. The current rules don't always reflect this and can be inflexible.
National recognises that our agricultural industry is very important to New Zealand’s economy and we’ve listened closely to industry concerns. That’s why the Ministry of Transport will begin work on this review immediately. The review will look at whether it’s possible to reduce compliance costs and improve economic growth and productivity while maintaining safety. Officials will consult with industry and other road user groups and consider international regulatory models. A paper will be provided to stakeholders later in the year and Government will receive a report early next year.
Out and About
It is great to see progress has been made with rural school speeds, after last year presenting a petition with 4,173 signatures calling for Mayor Kelvin Coe to reduce the speed limit outside schools in the Selwyn District to no more than 50 km/h during pick up and drop off times. The Selwyn District Council is now trialing a 40km/h sign in nine rural school zones: Broadfield, Burnham, Greendale, Greenpark, Hororata, Ladbrooks, Weedons, Windwhistle and Glentunnel. The trial will be in place for at least one year and the Selwyn District is the first in New Zealand to trial such signs.
Recently I have had the pleasure of visiting some of my local schools and I am always impressed with the dedication of the teaching staff and enthusiasm of the children. Some of my visits have included:
Opening a two storey classroom block at West Melton Primary School.
Visiting the children at Yaldhurst Model School and viewing their interpretation of what Christchurch may look like in 10-15 years by way of models and presentations.
Helping the Nature Ninjas at Ladbrooks Primary School plant out their section of Sharp’s Drain and a visit to McKenzie Residential School.
I am looking forward to participating in some of the Pet Days held in my schools in early November.
Finally – I have to say ……….GO THE ALL BLACKS!!
Amy Adams MP