Govt departments move from Christchurch CBD

10:35 pm on 11 January 2012

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister is dismissing criticism of a decision by two government agencies to base a call centre and hundreds of other staff outside central Christchurch.

Gerry Brownlee says the Government remains committed to working in Christchurch's central city.


The Inland Revenue Department and the Social Development Ministry, with a combined workforce of about 460 staff, will move into the Russley Road offices near Christchurch airport by the end of this year.

The decision to sign the long-term leases comes despite the Central City Plan that has rebuilding in the heart of the city as one of its cornerstones. The draft plan outlining the rebuilding of Christchurch was adopted by the council in December last year.

Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale says the public service sector needs to take charge and base itself in the central city where it is needed.

Mr Lonsdale says he could understand if the lease was three or five years, but considers a nine-year lease an abandonment of the city.

However, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee on Wednesday rejected this as abject rubbish, saying the Government's commitment to return frontline services to the CBD remains the same and he is happy the jobs are being kept in Christchurch.

Mr Lonsdale says the decision is likely to have a financial impact on the retail sector in Christchurch.

Inland Revenue deputy commissioner for service delivery, Mary Craig, says ongoing earthquakes have caused disruption for staff and there was an uncertain time frame for Inland Revenue to return to its Cashel Street office.

However, Ms Craig says both agencies are committed to maintaining a presence in Cashel Street once they have regained access to the building.