Christchurch rebuild projects gets worst performance rating in Treasury report

Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee during a media tour of the Christchurch CBD red zone.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee during a media tour of the Christchurch CBD red zone.

Major projects contributing to Christchurch's earthquake rebuild have received the worst performance rating from Treasury.

Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee has knocked Treasury and called its report "disrespectful" though it is the second time the department has issued a warning about the city's rebuild.

The city's anchor projects – which included the convention centre precinct and metro sports facility – were marked 'red' in the latest Major Projects Performance Report, meaning changes needed to be made to their budgets, schedules, and scope of benefits.

The Avon River winding through Christchurch's residential red zone.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The Avon River winding through Christchurch's residential red zone.

It was the only programme given a red rating in a list of projects assessed across government.

Treasury highlighted "significant issues" relating to governance and transition of Christchurch rebuild projects as the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) began to wind down and new entities took over.  

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"Project planning and transition planning are not well linked, partly due to timing of HR/change processes," the report said.

"This means that decisions may be out of sync, or being made without sufficient regard for the implications."

The "churn" of workers and contractors was a risk to the city's anchor projects, the report said.

Losing several employees at once would cause delays because knowledge would be lost.

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In November, Treasury said the Christchurch Central Delivery Programme, which involved a "timely and effective delivery" of Government-led anchor projects, was given a red rating and deemed "unachieveable" with "major issues" over project definition, budget and benefits.

Brownlee then dismissed it as "utter tripe" and a "disrespectful" report from "book keepers".

On Friday, Brownlee said once again said Treasury was well outside its mandate.

It was typical for Treasury to be "nipping at your heels" wanting agencies to save money and then criticising lack of resources to deliver, he said.

He highlighted several projects were already finished or under way, and that many complex projects needed consent by multiple parties, including local councils. 

The report's findings were a "fundamental indictment on the siloed nature" of the agency, and "disrespectful" to the hard work that had already happened, Brownlee said.

The Labour Party criticised Brownlee for his handling of Christchurch's rebuild, with deputy leader Annette King calling for him to be removed as the Minister in charge.

Labour's Canterbury spokeswoman, Megan Woods, said the city's anchor projects would be delayed until the end of he financial year because Cera has underspent it's budget by $106 million.

"Treasury documents . . . have revealed this underspend is due to delays in the land acquisition programme," she said.

"The Minister needs to stop shooting the messenger, take a deep breath and listen to what his own Government officials are telling him."

The report gave amber-green ratings to four programmes relating to Canterbury's recovery: infrastructure, schools, Burwood Hospital and the justice and emergency services precinct.

The rating meant delivery was probable, but needed "constant attention" to make sure risks did not become major issues. 

The red zone project was rated amber, meaning significant issues had arisen but were resolvable if dealt with quickly.

Treasury said some good progress had been made on Christchurch's bus interchange and the Margaret Mahy Family Playground.

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 - Stuff

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