Brownlee to EQC: Please explain

Last updated 10:56 07/03/2014
InTheHouseNZ

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee discusses the number of claims filed with EQC in the past three and a half years.

PLEASE EXPLAIN: EQC Chief Executive Ian Simpson arrives at Parliament for a meeting with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.
KEVIN STENT
PLEASE EXPLAIN: EQC Chief Executive Ian Simpson arrives at Parliament for a meeting with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.
DOT BOYD
STACEY SQUIRES
DOT BOYD: The 85-year-old's plight had been raised with EQC eight months ago by Labour MP Lianne Dalziel but no action was taken.
WANTING ANSWERS: Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee.
Fairfax NZ
WANTING ANSWERS: Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

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Earthquake Commission (EQC) bosses have been summoned to Parliament over the number of vulnerable elderly people still waiting for repairs on their quake-damaged Christchurch homes.

The meeting was sparked by revelations that the plight of 85-year-old Dot Boyd had been raised with the EQC eight months ago by then-Labour MP Lianne Dalziel but no action had been taken.

Labour revealed recently that Boyd had been living out of boxes while waiting for repairs to her Aranui home to get underway.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was this week forced to apologise after sledging Labour MPs over their work rate on behalf of earthquake victims only to discover that EQC had understated by hundreds the number of times the MPs had intervened for their constituents.

That lapse was also expected to be discussed at this morning's meeting, attended by EQC boss Ian Simpson and other officials.

Labour MPs were outraged that EQC accessed emails they sent on behalf of constituents so its minister could use the information to take political potshots.

Brownlee had publicly apologised after using information from EQC to attack Labour's Christchurch MPs over their efforts on behalf of constituents.

He said they had lodged just five requests for information between them.

It emerged the next day that the Labour MPs had lodged hundreds of requests on behalf of constituents, not five.

Brownlee had sought information about dealings between EQC and Labour MPs after Labour raised Boyd's plight.

He was furious to discover nothing had been done for her.

EQC had now confirmed there were at least 85 elderly people considered to be "vulnerable", suffering the same plight as Boyd.

Speaking in Christchurch yesterday Brownlee said he did not expect this most-recent incident to be the last time he would be frustrated with the organisation.

"Technically, on one type of communication they were right . . . but the bigger picture, they completely missed," he said.

The minister said he was talking to EQC's executives today because the "Dot Boyd situation is just not tolerable".

However, EQC could either be "chasing round getting answers to crazy questions that come from politicians" or focusing on settling claims for the people that needed it.

But Labour Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson said the situation showed how out of touch Brownlee was, that he was only finding out now about the number of vulnerable cases on EQC's books.

His apology to Labour MPs, meanwhile, was "too little too late".

"His post-rant discovery that the case of 85-year-old Dot Boyd was not an isolated case, beggars belief," Dyson said.

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"We resent the fact that Mr Brownlee used this for a cheap political attack instead of stepping in and helping Dot Boyd last year when we contacted EQC over the problem.

"He should have checked his facts before he came out swinging. It is astonishing that only now he has stumbled upon a further 85 cases of elderly and vulnerable Cantabrians in rebuild limbo.

"Three years on he has yet to grasp the magnitude of the number of people who are still stranded in wrecked homes and want to move on."

Dyson said she was also outraged at Brownlee being given access to information about her dealings with EQC.

She had written demanding an urgent response on their reasons for handing over the information.

"I frankly have constituents whose needs are great," she said.

"Many now have flooded homes on top of everything else that they have had to deal with.

"Many have reported to me today that the shoddy job undertaken through Fletcher EQR has not withstood the storm, so they have wet and cold homes. They should be my priority." 

GERRY BROWNLEE'S FULL SPEECH:

- Fairfax Media

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