2 Jun 2016

Minister silent on report critical of Chch rebuild

7:06 pm on 2 June 2016

The minister in charge of Christchurch's rebuild isn't commenting on a Treasury report which is critical of the post-quake progress in the city.

Gerry Brownlee

Gerry Brownlee Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

The Major Projects Performance Report released yesterday is the third of its kind and rates progress of the government's biggest projects.

That includes the Christchurch Central Delivery Programme, which consists of 17 projects, including the convention centre and Earthquake Memorial.

Treasury's overall confidence in the rebuild progress has improved slightly, with a previous rating of red, now listed as amber/red.

However the long-awaited $284 million convention centre, which is proposed for a site next to Cathedral Square, was given a red rating.

The convention centre was due to be finished in 2017 but that was pushed out to late 2018, with the Treasury report says that the centre was not expected to be operational until April 2019.

A spokesperson for the minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Gerry Brownlee, said he would not comment on the matter.

But the spokesperson said that the previous Major Projects report stated the expected convention centre completion was in 2018, which referred to construction completion - not an opening.

''The report released yesterday cites an expected opening date of April 2019, so the change of date is not new information.''

Christchurch construction.

Treasury's overall confidence in the Christchurch rebuild progress has improved slightly. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Prime Minister John Key said the Treasury report was based on historic information.

Mr Key said some reports from Treasury were quite historic and its advisors were not intimately involved in the intensive negotiations surrounding the convention centre.

Meanwhile, the new Crown agency Ōtākaro, which replaced the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), and only came into existence in April, has already changed its constitution.

It originally specified it was responsible for delivering on the city's anchor projects.

However, a spokesperson for Ōtākaro said it's directors believed the existing purpose clause put too much emphasis on commercial objectives.

"So in early May the directors requested purpose clause of the Constitution be amended to better reflect that Ōtākaro is a mixed-objectives company with both commercial and regeneration objectives.

"Treasury and the shareholding ministers have supported this change.''

The uncertainty about Cathedral Square is not limited to the convention centre, with a decision about the quake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral also overdue.

Mr Brownlee's spokesperson told RNZ there was no update to give at this stage.

An update was due in April and two weeks ago there was speculation that a decision was imminent.

Today Mr Key told media that the Cathedral was "fundamentally not an issue for the government''.

"We'd like to see it resolved but it's fundamentally an issue for the Anglican Church. It's clearly been a matter of some considerable debate in Christchurch but it's not an anchor project, it's not something we have responsibility for.''

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs