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11 months ago

The Star: February 15, 2018

16 Thursday

16 Thursday February 15 2018 Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi The Star Viewpoint ​Fighting for people stuck in EQC limbo AS WE COME up on the seventh anniversary of the earthquake, one of my biggest priorities as a new Minister is to finally see resolution for people still stuck in EQC and insurance limbo. THis is personal for me – as an electorate MP I’ve spent years fighting to get help for many of my constituents who are stuck in this situation. I know every electorate MP in Canterbury has had the same. I’m so aware that this mess is putting people through absolute misery – they’re trapped, unable to get on with their lives. I’m determined that we sort this out. It’s also important that we prepare for the future as well – we need to acknowledge that we live in a geologically active region of the world and that as much as we might wish it, we haven’t seen the last major earthquake to strike New Zealand. So as well as sorting things out for the people still stuck in limbo, we need to make sure our system is prepared for the future so that in the event of future disasters people get their claims sorted as quickly and fairly as possible. That’s why we are having an independent inquiry into EQC, the terms of reference we are consulting with the public on now. For those still in limbo however, officials are working now on a range of ways to speed up the work of getting people’s claims sorted, to be considered as part of the Government’s budget process. What we promised before the election was a range of measures. Firstly, we promised to save the Residential Advisory Service who are now providing case management which has helped thousands of people resolve their claims. That’s been done. Next, we promised an arbitration service to speed up the resolution of claims and to act as an alternative pathway for claimants. THis would work on a fast track basis, and be able to award compensation for distress caused by undue delays. Secondly, we promised to establish a fund for test cases and declaratory judgements to resolve unsettled issues of legal dispute – such as issues around the limitations act and the difficult problem of on-sold claims. We are also working with EQC to implement proper case management approach, where people deal with one person whose job it is to sort their claim, instead of constantly bouncing back and forth between people. THese promises and other options are being considered now through the budget process and I’m looking forward to the Government being able to make real progress and help people get on with their lives. I’m very clear that people have waited for too long and we are determined to fix this mess. •Megan Woods is the Minister of Greater Christchurch Regeneration NEW ZEALAND is a country of small and medium sized businesses, and that’s particularly true here in Christchurch where 97 per cent of our businesses have less than 20 employees. THese businesses drive our economy, and provide most of the job opportunities and incomes for our families. Our region has been growing and performing well economically, so it’s important we don’t do anything that upsets the apple cart. But new Government has launched the first wave of their employment law reforms that could do just that. The reforms as proposed will increase risks and costs for small and mediumsized businesses and that can only hurt jobs and slow our city and region down. The changes proposed include the end of the starting out wage, the removal of 90-day trials for businesses with more than 20 staff (including casual and part-timers), big leaps in the minimum wage, reduced employment flexibility, and 1970s-style standardised wage bargaining. These changes taken together will mean fewer jobs for Kiwi workers, increases in the cost of living and fewer competitive businesses. You don’t improve things for New Zealand workers by increasing the cost of goods made in New Zealand. Already we are seeing businesses across the country lose confidence as a result of the policies of this new Government. These reforms are one of the big Nicky Wagner Employment law changes will cost jobs reasons for that decline. New Zealand has an enviable track record over the last few years for lifting employment and growing wages. For the last two years an average of over 10,000 jobs have been created every month. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since the GFC in 2008, and the proportion of people in work is the third highest in the developed world. Given that track record the Government needs to explain the reasons behind these reforms. Or is it just a pay-off for their union backers at the expense of our economy? Right now Christchurch and Canterbury is in good economic shape, and has a strong future for our families and our young people. Let’s not do anything to upset that. •Nicky Wagner is a National list MP based in Christchurch Central WIN $ 1000 * Go into the draw to win this great prize by requesting a no obligation measure and quote for a HomePlus balustrade today. *Promotion closes end of March 2018. 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The Star Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Thursday February 15 2018 17 A Christchurch ‘sparkie’ who won $20.2 million in Lotto’s Powerball has announced he is splitting his winnings with family Lianne Dalziel Hamish Middleton – Good on you. I bought my ticket at Hornby mall as well and held off checking for a couple days in hope of being the division one winner. Took it to the Lotto operator, got the win music, got a bit excited . . . and received a bonus ticket. Perhaps another time. Raymond Low – Rethink the gifting part mate . . . as they say, it’s tax-free until it hits your bank account. Gifting money to people attracts a tax of it’s own that the gifter must pay . . . go see a lawyer and set up a family trust, this way you can give the money without the hefty tax penalties. Susan Lightbown – I’m pleased it’s gone to someone who will get pleasure from sharing. Good for them. Sue Silk – Happy for this man and his family. Melissa Blair Herrick – Omg, how exciting. I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Amanda White – Good on you. I’d do exactly the same if I won. Lisa Houghton – Adopt me, ha ha. Great stuff good on them all. Maree C Brogan – Sounds wonderful to me and what I would do too. Good on them hope they enjoy it. Paulette Stickley – Early retirement, good on you, and sharing it, sounds like a welldeserved win and a top notch bloke. Kim Scott – Fantastic. Enjoy your retirement and family time. Sarah O’Brien – Glad it went to a good old tradie. Sandie Payne – Awesome, good on him, bless him and his family. Janice Little – Well done. Dreams do come true then. Ellen Hoy – Imagine choosing to have it direct credited and then waiting seven to 10 days. It would be the longest wait of your life. Maria Mann – Congratulations – all new friends and family will come out of the woodwork now, you watch. Melissa Blair Herrick – Whoever you are . . . live, enjoy, have an absolute ball. Liz Richardson – And it’s none of our business who it is. Lisa Haua Aroha Collins Nelson – Richmond’s a lucky Lotto shop. Cherry Cornelius – Good on them. I’m sure it is going to be an amazing thing for them and their family. Cracroft’s historic Old Stone House has been reopened after a $2 million earthquake restoration project Josh Mundt – Was great working on this project rebuild to restrengthen and restore it to its former glory. Giles Hall – This is the stone house I worked on . . . stone work looks mint, especially the front steps and north lobby. Tess Lenihan – Wonder if the ghost stayed on? Gaynor Reid – Good to see this repaired. Such a great wedding venue. Elisha and Nigel Gilmore – We were married there in September 2010. Possibly one of the last weddings before it closed for repairs. Finding the right balance between heritage and future I RECEIVED a number of very positive comments about the reopening of the Old Stone House last week, especially the history of community involvement that saved it many years ago after a fire. I also had the privilege of having a sneak preview of the restored Midland Building that originally housed the Midland Club and which was, before the earthquakes, the home to Caffe Roma. It has been lovingly restored and will soon be open again – this time with new tenants, including a tapas restaurant. THe Landmark Heritage Grant we made ensured the building wasn’t knocked down and means we all have a stake in this wonderful piece of our city’s history. At the same time as we are looking after our history, we are also focused on the future, and investing in initiatives that together will make our city more sustainable, reduce emissions and save money as well. Last year we decided to speed up the replacement of our street lights with LED lighting. There is an upfront cost to this but the NZTA subsidy reduces the cost significantly and the balance is more than paid back through significantly reduced maintenance requirements and electricity bills over time. For example, street lights require replacement every three to four years, whereas LEDs last for 20 years. That’s a win-win. THis year Christchurch has introduced New Zealand’s first electric car sharing scheme, which has just been launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern. THis scheme may not have been in the blueprint, but it is as much a part of our city’s regeneration as is any project that it envisaged. It is the way of the future. THe wonderful thing about the scheme is that it’s not just for council vehicles, it’s also for government departments, private sector businesses and eventually for residents too. Anyone can sign up with Yoogo. Waste Management is also getting in on the act with its first electric rubbish truck launched this week and soon Red Bus will be making the high profile airportcity bus route electric as well. THese are small steps as we move away from our dependence on fossil fuels. I often hear from residents that you want the council focusing on the basics. Get the roads repaired before you worry about heritage or reducing emissions. I totally agree that we need to focus on the basics and that roads are an obviously measure of the state of the city’s repair. I guess my message is that it’s not an ‘either/or’; it’s an ‘and’. Our heritage is very much about who we are as a city and we should preserve what we can of what remains. And new technologies are the way of the future and will save money in the end. If we can make these available to residents with no additional rates impact then that is a good thing. It’s a matter of setting priorities and getting the balance right. And these are precisely the sorts of issues that we will be seeking your views on when our draft Long Term Plan goes out for consultation in early March. •If you want to ask Ms Dalziel a question, email mayor@ccc. govt.nz. Put Reader’s Question in the subject line