Aussies offer rebuild help

TIM FULTON
Last updated 14:00 22/07/2014
Joe Hockey in Chch
John Kirk-Anderson/Fairfax NZ

POSITIVE PROMOTION: Australian High Commisoner Michael Potts, left, and Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey visit the Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch.

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Christchurch's sports stadium is giving off a "temporary" vibe about the city to international audiences, a visiting Australian politician says.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey, a rugby fan and friend of former Crusaders coach Robbie Deans, hoped media coverage of his visit yesterday would help more Australians see the region was open for business.

It did not help that AMI Stadium - broadcast around the world during televised matches - was often described as "temporary".

"I know there's priorities for the rebuild but . . . the fact that it's still referred to as a temporary stadium is a reminder all the time for the biggest outbound showcase for Christchurch. So, the symbolism of rebuild needs to be there," he said.

The region needed positive promotion, much like Bali was promoted after terrorist attacks, or North Queensland's response to Cyclone Larry in 2006.

Christchurch was not "necessarily on the global map, or on the national map in Australia so it's only word of mouth that's going to make the difference", Hockey said.

"I came specifically to say, ‘We know you're getting on with the job, we know you're rebuilding. Is there anything we can do to help?' The rest of the world might have forgotten about the challenges Christchurch has had - we don't.

"Places are open for business, there's good opportunities for investment and the relationship rebuilds."

Hockey said he remembered "the river and the cathedral" from his childhood visit to Christchurch but was hoping to see more yesterday.

"Robbie Deans is a good mate of mine, so he kept saying, ‘You know, you've got to go to Christchurch'. So, I really wanted to come here to emphasise that [although] there's plenty of things to do at home, it was a priority to come here and see Christchurch."

Hockey had questions for Australian banks and insurers involved the rebuild.

"Two thirds of the insurance here is Australian, so I want to know about that. And how the banks have responded."

His agenda included talking to Australian business operators about "any inhibitors at our end" to investing in Christchurch and Canterbury.

Hockey said that there was always opportunity for Australians to invest in New Zealand despite Australia slowing economically after its powerful mining boom.

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