PM trying to have a bob both ways - Labour

2:45 pm on 20 September 2011

The Labour Party says the Prime Minister is trying to have a bob each way on the possibility of the Government becoming an insurer of last resort in Canterbury.

Labour says if it leads the Government after the election, it would reserve the right to intervene in the insurance market as a way of kick-starting the re-build in Christchurch.

Prime Minister John Key has criticised Labour's policy, saying becoming an insurer of last resort would not be a short term fix, and could be tremendously expensive.

But he hasn't ruled out the Government taking on that role at some point. Mr Key said that the Government would prefer to continue to work with private sector providers but if everything fails it wil have another look at the matter.

Labour leader Phil Goff says it's nonsense for Mr Key to condemn Labour's policy, when he is not ruling out making exactly the same decision.

Mr Goff says Labour's plan is not reckless, and they would only step in if all other avenues were exhausted.

Mr Key has said that the reason there isn't much insurance cover available at the moment is because there's still seismic activity taking place in Christchurch.

Guarded welcome for buy-up plan

In its policy, the Labour Party also says it will buy 1500 sections to sell at cost to residents in the earthquake red zone in Canterbury if it becomes Government following the November election.

Some people who live the residential red zone say the idea of buying land is a good one, but would not work for them.

One red zone resident in Avonside, Jan Stuart, says even if attempts were made to buy land now, it would not be ready in time.

She says people need to be out of their homes by 2013 and there is not enough time to plan, develop and build on a subdivision before then.

However Ms Stuart says the party's insurance plans are a good suggestion as it's insurance companies that are holding everybody up.

"No-one is going to build a house unless they know they can get insurance at the end of it ... and no-one can promise that."

A member of the Riverside Community group, Evan Smith, says Labour's plan to buy 1500 sections would help stabilise the market at a time of high demand for new sections, and make an enormous practical difference to house affordability.