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Labour tells Govt to check its rebuild figures

Thursday 8 May 2014 4:46 a.m.

The Government should check its own figures on the Christchurch rebuild now a report has shown the city council faces a blowout of at least half a billion dollars, Labour says.

The KordaMentha report, released yesterday, says the council could face a bill of $4.135 billion for its share of the rebuild - $534 million more than the council itself had estimated.

And it warns the hole in the accounts is likely to be even bigger because it believes the council has overestimated its $1b insurance payout.

It's going to share the cost of rebuilding the quake-damaged city with the Government, and Labour says ministers had better make sure they know how much they're going to have to put up.

Last year's budget allocated $5.5b, which was more than had been previously estimated.

"The report brings into question the robustness of the Government's figures," said Ruth Dyson, Labour's earthquake recovery spokeswoman.

"It's critical the Government comes to the party and acknowledges the changed information - we need a genuine partnership."

Ms Dyson says the surplus the Government is going to reveal in next week's budget could be based on false figures.

"As citizens we didn't really didn't know what we should expect to have rebuilt because we didn't know what sort of money we had in the bank," she said on Firstline this morning.

"As ratepayers and taxpayers we were really in the dark. Now we know with some confidence exactly what we are facing."

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has doubts about KordaMentha's data and has ordered an independent review of the independent review.

He's annoyed with the council for releasing the report when it did.

"It raises more questions than we are presently able to answer."

Ms Dyson says Mr Brownlee's reaction to the report is "puzzling".

"From my perspective, ratepayers and taxpayers deserve to know the facts, they deserve to know what's going on. He's questioning the KordaMentha report – what does he know that the rest of us don't know? He's not sharing that."

She says the current cost-sharing agreement was imposed on Christchurch, and Labour would instead seek to have a "genuine partnership" with the council.

"It's about sitting down as grown-up people and saying, 'here's what we're facing, let's do it together'."  

Ms Dyson says Labour doesn't back selling city assets, calling it a short-term fix that won't work in the long-term.

The Greens say the report shows the council can't afford to pay all of its share for the big ticket items the government wants in the rebuilt city - especially a $253m covered stadium.

"If money needs to be saved, then the super-sized 'anchor projects' should be the first to be cut," said Christchurch spokeswoman Eugenie Sage.

NZN / 3 News

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