1 Dec 2015

Govt accused of making 'mess' of Chch rebuild

8:22 pm on 1 December 2015

The government is being accused of making a mess of the Christchurch rebuild following the release of a Treasury report saying it's missed key milestones.

Christchurch construction.

Christchurch construction. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The report, which was done in June, also said the city's anchor projects were highly likely to need more money.

Treasury gave the programme a red rating, meaning it believes the successful delivery of the project is unachievable.

National MP, Gerry Brownlee.

Gerry Brownlee. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

But the minister responsible, Gerry Brownlee, said the report was written by Wellington bureaucrats who knew little about what was happening on the ground.

"I describe it as probably the sort of thing you do if you do a desktop analysis without any understanding of the complexities of what's actually happening and if you don't talk to your colleagues about funding that has been committed."

Labour's Grant Robertson questioned the Finance Minister and acting Prime Minister, Bill English, in the House this afternoon over his agency's report and Mr Brownlee's response.

"Does he agree with the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery that Treasury has an arrogant, bureaucratic attitude to Christchurch and the report he released yesterday is utter tripe?"

Bill English on the bridge at Parliament.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

But Mr English came to his colleague's defence, saying he could understand Mr Brownlee's point of view.

"He has dealt with the expenditure of over $15 billion in what would be the most complicated set of decisions that any government or minister has had to make."

Mr English said Treasury might have missed something: "There's parts of Treasury that do the accounting and parts of it do the project monitoring and it's possible that the people who monitor the projects aren't aware of quite how much money is being spent there."

Mr Robertson persisted, accusing the government of making a "complete mess" of the rebuild.

But Mr English accused Mr Robertson of suffering from "the political problem of being completely Wellington bound" and invited him to visit Christchurch to see the programme's progress.

He said the government was already addressing housing problems raised by the report.

"There is a lot of focus and a lot of work going on right now around emergency housing and homelessness with a pretty successful project in Hamilton, and in Auckland," he said.

"Quite a bit of money has been put in and the key to success there is getting the agencies organised and that's underway."

Mr English said there would be more announcements in the next couple of weeks about social housing projects in Auckland.

The anchor programme included building a stadium, a convention centre and a sports hub.