25 Jun 2015

'Artificial distinctions' in new buy-out offer

7:10 pm on 25 June 2015

Ongoing delays in the Government's earthquake recovery approach in Canterbury are harming the health and wellbeing of many residents, the Chief Human Rights Commissioner says.

Damaged buildings are demolished in the red zone area in downtown Christchurch on 21 February 2012.

Damaged buildings are demolished in the red zone area in downtown Christchurch in February 2012. Photo: AFP

David Rutherford has responded to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA)'s announcement of proposed increases to the Crown's buy-out offers for some landowners in the city's red zone.

He said he was pleased that owners of vacant and commercial land would receive offers of 100 percent of their land's 2007 rateable value but was disappointed that CERA had made "artificial distinctions" for uninsured homeowners.

Under the proposed new offers, uninsured homeowners would receive 80 percent of their land's 2007 value but no money for their house.

Mr Rutherford said he had consistently urged the Government to take a generous approach to people affected by the region's quakes.

"In many other places, the Government has acknowledged the harm being done to the health and wellbeing of these people," he said.

"The Supreme Court in its decision made quite clear that the Government needs to factor that into its response. The Government didn't get it right four years ago - these people have had to fight for it through all the courts."

The Commission has fought alongside the Quake Outcasts group, which brought about legal action challenging the Government's red-zoning process and buy-out offers.

Mr Rutherford said he understood why the Quake Outcasts would take seek court intervention on the back on the proposed new offers.

The revised offers have yet to be approved by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee.