For those without high or even medium-speed broadband, the Hansard is below:
9. Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Labour—Christchurch East) to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: Does he stand by his statement on 7 October last year that “the people of Canterbury who have suffered property damage can take heart…that the equity they believed they had in their properties prior to the 4 September event is preserved”; if so, why?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery) on behalf of the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: He stands by the statement he made on 7 October. No one could have predicted the 22 February event. The 23 June offer to purchase in the most damaged areas at the 2007 rating value is a fair one.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Does he then stand by his statement of 8 March this year, after the 22 February earthquake: “But right from 4 September I have repeatedly said that what we have to do is protect the equity that people think they’ve got in their properties”, and will he now admit that the Government’s offer fails to achieve that for many of those who will be receiving the Government’s offer, as evidenced by 17 emails I received after the Government leaked the announcement but before it was made?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I think it is fair to say that the Government believes the offer we have made is a fair and balanced offer that in the vast bulk of cases will achieve the aim the member wants. As the Minister has said on a number of occasions, the exact technical details of the package are still being worked through.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Why has he not yet advised property owners that they still have the option of taking the Earthquake Commission cash settlement for the land if it is higher than the 2007 rating value for the land, and will the amount of the cash settlement that that would entail be included in the letter of offer so homeowners can make an informed decision?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I do not want to pre-empt anything about details that will go to homeowners. I can assure the member that they will be informed of all of the details of the offer, and then they will have up to 9 months to make a determination as to whether they accept it.
Brendon Burns: When the Minister said on 15 June that “we need to make sure that when we’re protecting equity in one place, we’re also protecting that equity in the places where we have the same outcome”, did he intend to include examples like that of my constituents who will be offered $90,000 less than the mortgage on their Avonside home, which had a market value when bought well above the 2007 rating valuation; if so, why did he not refer to negative equity?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I can tell that member of an experience I had with the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service, and that is that whenever a global offer is made, there will be cases that are outliers and are difficult—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Outliers?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: Well, they can be. This offer the Government has made is, in our view, a fair and balanced offer, and it cannot incorporate every individual case the member is referring to.
Brendon Burns: Is the Minister aware that section prices across Christchurch can start at around $150,000, which can be $50,000 above current land valuation in red zone areas, and will that not mean that red zone property owners will need to borrow considerably to resettle, rather than being able to use preserved equity, as he repeatedly suggested?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I think it would be really wrong for me to comment on the land prices of various sections. All I can say is that I think the Government’s offer, which takes into account the rating value as of 2007, is a fair and balanced offer.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Does he consider the allocation of the value of the land within the rating valuation process to be robust, when it has produced such variable outcomes, leaving many in the red zone with insufficient funds to buy a section to take advantage of the replacement option in their insurance policy?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: The offer the Government announced on 23 June took a lot of time to work through. The details were carefully considered and the final offer was considered to be a fair and balanced package. But it is fair to say that there will always be a specific case that members in this House can raise when people may have paid a higher price for their property or whatever, but in general the package the Government has offered is fair and balanced.
Hon Ruth Dyson: When will he announce the appeal process for those who wish to challenge the valuation?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I do not believe that that date has yet been set.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: I seek leave to table a summary that I have put together of the 17 emails I received the night before the Government made the offer announcement public.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document prepared by the member. Is there any objection? Did I hear objection? No, there is no objection.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: I seek leave to table the transcript taken from the Campbell Live interview with Gerry Brownlee, to which—
Mr SPEAKER: No, we do not seek leave for that. The House let the member table a document that she had prepared, but we do not seek leave to table transcripts from broadcasts.