Cosgrove critical of Cera and Sutton

TIM FULTON
Last updated 05:00 04/09/2014

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A board tasked with winding down the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) will work better than National's advisory group, Labour's earthquake recovery spokesman, Clayton Cosgrove, says.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has named Waimakariri-based Cosgrove as his shadow minister for the portfolio, edging out Port Hills incumbent Ruth Dyson.

Cosgrove yesterday began with a critique of Cera chief executive Roger Sutton, who had taken on the job in 2012 after being well regarded while head of lines company Orion.

Sutton was seemingly stifled by Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Cera's structure, Cosgrove said.

The agency was like a 1970s department "where you need permission to order paper clips and a roll of wine gums unless Mr Brownlee approves it".

Cunliffe claimed at Tuesday's Press leaders debate that National considered dropping Sutton as part of its plan to house Cera within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).

Under the post-election plan, Sutton would join a team of senior state officials who would plan for Cera's eventual demise.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday Sutton would continue to report directly to Brownlee.

Brownlee dispelled talk of a rift between him and Sutton.

" It has always been our hope and expectation that Mr Sutton would continue to do the excellent job he is doing at Cera," he said.

"It was always envisaged that Cera would retain a chief executive once the organisation moved to DPMC, and therefore that it would be Roger Sutton."

Cosgrove said Labour had always suggested Cera should be run by a board "similar to the Orion model", comprising a minister, board and chief executive. This model would depoliticise Cera's management, Cosgrove said.

Brownlee said DPMC was an appropriate place for Cera because it could share "intellectual capital" on natural disaster response and recovery with the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

Cera would also be able to get on with its huge job in Christchurch while work continued on its transition "in parallel with the support of DPMC and other government agencies", he said.

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- The Press

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