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Cosgrove: Nothing Silly About Wanting Quake Information

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Government is out of touch if it believes its level of communication with earthquake-affected residents is satisfactory, says Labour's Earthquake Recovery spokesperson and Waimakariri MP Clayton Cosgrove.

Clayton Cosgrove said Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee told Parliament today that he believed that communication to date had been perfectly adequate given the complexity of the problem.

"That's not what many earthquake-affected residents in areas like Kaiapoi and greater Canterbury are telling me," Clayton Cosgrove said. "That's why the community has asked me to invite Gerry Brownlee to attend the next series of public information meetings I will be holding in the New Year.

"I am concerned about how much importance Mr Brownlee actually attaches to these information meetings given that he also told me in Parliament today that he is not interested in dealing with 'some of the silly speculation that goes on from people who have perhaps not read all the information that is available'. Gerry Brownlee should be well aware that Canterbury people have been through a traumatic few months, and are still suffering from that trauma.

"From what I have heard at the public information meetings I have run so far, they are not indulging in silly speculation," Clayton Cosgrove said. "To suggest that anyone is rarking them up, as Gerry Brownlee did today, is unfair and insensitive. People want help, they want reassurance and they want information.

"One answer wanted by many people who have been forced from their homes, and whose private insurance cover for temporary accommodation only lasts six to 12 months, is what extension the Government is considering to its response package when that temporary accommodation assistance runs out.

"Gerry Brownlee agrees that is a serious problem, but in that case I am surprised he has only this week held meetings with the insurance sector to discuss it. It now seems unlikely any answers will be available before Christmas.

"Gerry Brownlee also believes his $600,000 business response package (made up of two-and-a-half staff and $100,000 in cash) is adequate," Clayton Cosgrove said. "Again he seems out of touch with needs in the Canterbury business community, many of whom are close to going to the wall, and making staff redundant.

"Canterbury asked for $4.1 million in total and all it has got is two-and-a-half staff and $100,000. This is nowhere near what business needs, and if staff are let go the taxpayer will pay a lot more in unemployment cheques. It would be far better to provide real business assistance and keep people in secure employment."

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