Is he satisfied with progress on the recovery from the Canterbury earthquake so far?
Yes. The member will know that on Tuesday night we passed the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 with the support of that member, her party, and, indeed, all parties in this House. In that sense, we have set in place the ability for Canterbury to now progress on its path to recovery.
In light of the Prime Minister’s statement on 7 September that “The Government is prepared to step up financially to rebuild the region.”, does that include regional roading? Local authorities are now saying they will require a rate rise and a loan facility to pay for the repairs to regional roads; was that what the Canterbury people understood would happen from the Prime Minister’s statement?
Yes, the Government is aware of the issues relating to roading—and, indeed, infrastructure—and we will continue to discuss those matters with the people of Canterbury, walk alongside them, and give them assistance where it is needed and where we can.
Has he received a report from the Insurance Council of New Zealand stating that an emerging problem for the reconstruction in Canterbury is the shortage of labour and materials; if so, what planning is taking place to ensure that sufficient labour is available in Canterbury, and that other regions that also have urgent needs for labour and materials at this time are not significantly disadvantaged?
Yes. Again, we are aware of those issues. We are working with the construction companies and the likes of the master builders and the Certified Builders Association to ensure that as best as we are able we can organise the labour force, both in Canterbury and across this country, to provide the resources that are necessary. We are also in discussions as to whether there is a need for us to bring in people from overseas to assist. Again, those decisions are under discussion and will continue to be made as we make progress.
What progress has been made on requiring building companies involved in the reconstruction to include training for the over 1,000 unemployed people in the region who already have some experience in construction and building, as identified last week by the Minister for Social Development and Employment, who said the Government was working on such a policy?
Again, it is under consideration. We are just 12 days out from the event, and those matters are being considered. All forms of resources are being considered.
In light of a question raised last night at a public meeting in Kaiapoi attended by over 1,000 people, will the Government put together a package to compensate homeowners who have suffered major capital value loss; if so, what will that package include?
I wish I had the specific answers to all the member’s questions, because of course those questions have been asked by the people of Canterbury. We are working as hard and as fast as we can to get specific answers to all those sorts of questions. The member is right to reflect them, because they are the sorts of things the people of Canterbury want to know. As a Government we have to be careful about the way we progress this matter, but we are working with the Insurance Council, the insurance companies, and the banks to see how we can assist in that regard.
Has he read the letter from the New Zealand Law Society that was sent to him a week ago, which asks for the Government to take a lead role in solving the emerging problem of transitional insurance cover for people who were in the process of buying and selling homes when the quake struck, and which is now leading to a logjam and having a flow-on effect on house sales in other parts of New Zealand; if so, is the Government considering acting as a transitional underwriter of insurance cover until this issue is sorted out?
I cannot say specifically whether the Minister has read the letter. I certainly have not. I cannot speak for him; I do not know. I can tell the member that the Minister is in discussions with the Insurance Council, insurance companies, and banks to see how this matter can be dealt with.