PM: Red zone decision months away

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 09:48 17/04/2014
John Key
STACY SQUIRES
IN CHRISTCHURCH: Prime Minister John Key speaks to the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce at the Airforce Museum.

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The future use of the residential red zone is still months away from being decided, Prime Minister John Key says.

Key addressed about 700 people at a Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning and said before a future use could be decided, ownership issues and infrastructure problems needed to be solved.

"This includes things like road layout, water, waste water, and storm water networks," he said.

Key said a community participation process could be designed so the public has a say on the future use of red zoned land.

"While the land is severely damaged, that doesn't mean we can't devise new ways to use it."

He expected more details to be announced towards the middle of the year.

"We want to hear from the people of Christchurch and Kaiapoi what they want to see happen to this land - whether it's parks, playing fields, cycleways or any other innovative ideas."

Key spoke about various aspects of the rebuild and acknowledged both the successes - such as a strong regional economy and private sector progress - and the challenges, including settling complex insurance claims such as multi-unit buildings.

"Some people have the view that the repair of residential properties is not going quickly enough.

"I completely understand their frustration. But the fact is that there are some very complex issues government and local agencies, and insurers, are dealing with."

He said the Earthquake Commission had 80 staff working on multi-unit building claims.

Despite the challenges Key said the rebuild was gaining momentum.

There were now 200 private-sector buildings either underway or consented within the four avenues.

"The rebuild is driving the regional economy and we are now entering a phase where more results of our efforts are showing up on the ground every day.

"It's an enormous challenge but I'm determined that we will rebuild Christchurch as a great place to live, work and raise a family in."

GOVT CONTRIBUTING $15b TO REBUILD

Key said the government's total contribution to the rebuild was now expected to be about $15 billion, of which $7.3b is from EQC net of reinsurance proceeds.

"At the moment we are paying an estimated $9 million every working day in rebuild invoices."

He also praised the housing accord between the council and Government announced earlier this week.

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"While new areas are being developed, particularly on the outskirts of the city, there is a need for more to be done.

"The supply of affordable and social housing needs to be further addressed."

CHRISTCHURCH 'MOST MEMORABLE' FOR ROYALS

Visiting Christchurch was "arguably the most memorable part" of William and Kate's New Zealand tour, Prime Minister John Key says.

Ditching his speech notes at a Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning, Key said the Duke and Duchess had been humbled by their visit to the city on Monday.

"They were both moved by their visit and enjoyed seeing Christchurch and the rebuild that is taking place."

He said Cantabrians should "take a lot of pride in your city".

KEY: 'SPECTACULAR' ECONOMIC OUTLOOK FOR NZ

Key also mentioned the upcoming Budget saying the country had a "spectacular outlook".

He said the fact the Government was looking at a surplus was impressive given the "position we inherited back in 2008".

He said in comparison to Australia that was facing "sweeping changes" and a potentially record deficit, New Zealand was doing "extraordinarily well".

- The Press

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