From CERA to beyond – Transition Recovery Plan

Hi everyone, Leanne here.

Yesterday the Minister released the Transition Recovery Plan. This outlines how Central Government will transition roles and responsibilities for long-term arrangements as the focus moves largely from recovery to regeneration. It also confirms decisions about new legislation which is considered necessary to support recovery and regeneration over the next five years.

If you would like to see how your feedback on the Draft Transition Recovery Plan had an impact on this version, read the Summary of submissions to Draft Transition Plan.

If you’re looking for acknowledgement that not everyone is beyond the recovery stage, you will only see it in small nods. This is a relatively upbeat document and it’s focused far more on the central city regeneration and how overall leadership will transition from Central Government to Local Government over time. That said, neither Central nor Local Government are under any illusion as to the reality of broken homes, roads, and people. The Advisory Board has made sure that focus remains front and centre and we are expecting inheriting agencies to be able to articulate clearly their role in the provision of support for people still struggling. If you want to understand who will be responsible for ensuring homes and people are repaired, look to Appendix 1: New central government arrangements.

Regenerate Christchurch is the new lead entity and it’s purpose is to ‘support a vibrant, thriving Christchurch with economic, social and lifestyle opportunities for residents, businesses, visitors, investors and developers’. It is not the group that will focus on what is left of the residential rebuild and insurance issues nor the more specific social issues which come about after a protracted disaster recovery. MBIE and MoH have been charged with that role and there is as yet very little visibility of what that really looks like.

Regenerate Christchurch is however the entity which will try to speed up momentum in the CBD rebuild and will be responsible for the future Red Zone engagement in Christchurch. The Crown and CCC have collaborated in the design of this entity and the idea is that over the next five years there will be less and less Crown influence. The Mayor is pretty happy with this approach so we need to trust that she has addressed previous issues in the set up of Regenerate Christchurch.

People will still question though, “is Regenerate Christchurch just CERA in drag? CCDU in drag? Is the Minister still calling all the shots?” In my honest opinion which has been largely informed through my role on the Advisory Board, I believe not. I’m not staking my life on it because let’s face it, when push comes to shove the Crown always has the biggest stick. However, I am confident of a few things:

  1. The Crown actually wants out of the driving seat. They have to stay to ensure their ongoing financial investment is looked after but they certainly don’t want to be creating new roles for themselves.
  2. The dialogue between Minister Brownlee, Mayor Lianne Dalziel, and Chief Executives John Ombler and Karleen Edwards has improved and is focused. Open dialogue leads to all kinds of great planning and accountability and we are already reaping the rewards of this new way of working.
  3. The Crown actually don’t like to use the special powers but local authorities are very clear where momentum will be challenged if we do not have the ability to resolve extraordinary issues related to recovery and regeneration. We in the community have also identified long standing and unresolved issues which could be best addressed by the careful use of legislation.
  4. There has been a massive process shift in terms of who can instigate Regeneration Plans and the role the Minister has which essentially means that if the local authorities commit to meaningful community engagement, we are in a better position to lead local decisions.

The things that make me nervous and which are not well articulated in this Plan are the following:

  1. Future Use Residential Red Zone decisions. Like the way CERA has done it or not, there are some key people in CERA who understand that the Red Zone is as much a part of our social recovery and wellbeing as it is a Crown asset. To lose this thinking at this stage is a frightening concept.
  2.  The Plan doesn’t give any real indication what MoH and MBIE have actually been asked to do in terms of leading the residential and psychosocial recovery. MBIE don’t have a very visible local role and MoH have not been here in a leadership role as MSD has taken on the role. Uncertainty is uncomfortable and those who work in this space are feeling a little anxious.
  3. The section on DPMC’s monitoring and reporting also leaves me a little cold. Although it’s good to see that there will be some coordination of this, nothing in what is written demonstrates a greater commitment to the monitoring being used for anything more than reporting. Where’s the commitment to using the data to identify and resolve issues? CERA has monitored and reported on residential insurance progress stats for a long time. That doesn’t mean better progress has been made.

Next steps in moving from CERA to beyond are mostly legislative now. Select Committee submissions on the new legislation will be called for and it is likely to be a very short time frame with which to submit. Christmas is fast approaching and everything needs to be passed through Government and ready to go by April 2016.

A final personal opinion; the direction I believe is the right one. The Crown will see through the commitment to support this recovery but will move more and more out of the leadership role so that the local leadership can step up. Collaboration and leadership are the key focuses and we haven’t had enough of either to date so we are well overdue for a step-change in that area. The residential recovery has mostly taken a ‘leave it to market’ approach. We haven’t agreed that this was the right approach and we can only hope that a more specific solutions focus will be applied to what’s left. The community sector is strong and passionate about supporting the social wellbeing of Cantabrians so as long as they are in turn well supported, they will lead the way. The future use of the Red Zone is a nail-biting ‘wait and see’ area and we can only strenuously advocate that the powers that be remember the people.