Parker keen to explain service to Brownlee

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 29/04/2013
Gerry Brownlee
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ

TAKING ISSUE: Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee at the National Party Mainland conference in Hanmer Springs yesterday

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Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee continues to criticise the Christchurch City Council over its decision to fund an insurance advocacy service.

But Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the minister did not "understand the council's position".

Parker last week asked the minister to ring him so he can "run him through the logistics" but had so far not heard back.

Earlier this month Brownlee announced a residential insurance advisory service that would be part-funded by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and the council but the bulk of the money would come from private insurance companies.

The service has been slammed by community leaders, councillors and prominent Christchurch lawyer Duncan Webb who say the advisory service does not go far enough and fails to recognise the residents who are in need of advocacy to solve insurance woes.

Last week the council voted to fund the establishment of an insurance advocacy service saying it would be run by a community trust.

Brownlee issued a statement at the time saying the council's decision was done in "isolation" and the council would be on its own if legal liabilities arose from the advocacy service.

At the National Party Mainland conference in Hanmer Springs at the weekend Brownlee told The Press the Government, unlike the council, was "not setting up a service that will lumber taxpayers and claimants".

"There are liabilities that come with an advocacy role ... the moment you get into court then everything slows up.

"I'm staggered that the council can go against the advice from their own office."

When asked if the council would still put $150,000 towards the establishment of the Cera service Brownlee said: "No, they will use it to fund their own [service]".

"We will just carry on without it ... but I just think it's ridiculous," he said.

He said he had "no idea" the council was considering funding an advocacy service.

"It's concerning because we're trying to do everything to get things done more quickly and it feels to me like this [service] will just put people in court as opposed to assisting them to make decisions."

Parker felt Brownlee misunderstood the council's intent.

"I certainly don't see the advocacy service the way Gerry sees it ... it will be run through a trust and there won't be any liabilities for ratepayers or taxpayers."

Parker said the council would still "fully support" the Government's advisory service.

"We haven't seen the details of it yet but once we do ... we would be more than happy to fund it. The advocacy service doesn't replace the advisory service."

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- The Press

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