Earthquake Commission

Fairfax help Labour with a clumsy hit on EQC

Fairfax reports:

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has spent $68 million on travel-related costs since the September 2010 earthquake in Canterbury.

Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal EQC spent a total of $38m on accommodation and food for staff travelling in and out of Christchurch since September 2010, almost $20m on vehicles,?$8.2m on airfares and $880,400 on taxis and parking costs.

Almost half of the money ($29m) was spent in 2010/11, when EQC had to increase?staff numbers?from 22 before the September 2010 quake, to more than 1000 in February 2011.

The following year, travel costs kept running high at $23.4m but went down to a total of $15.6m for the past three years.

Labour?EQC?spokesman Clayton?Cosgrove said EQC should have asked more staff to relocate to Christchurch or hired local people instead of having “an army of bureaucrats with their clipboards parachuted in from Wellington”. ?? Read more »

Josh Forman and his attempt to leak information from his government job


Josh Forman

Josh Forman thought yesterday that he would try and nail the PM by releasing an email between me and him.

Little did he know that I had smelled a rat some days ago and set him up.

However over the course of the past month he has been sending me information that he came by in his role working in?the?state sector, specifically information designed to undermine CERA and the EQC, but especially Gerry Brownlee.

He states in his email suggesting a blog post and potential set of OIA questions the following from a temporary email account.

The Comedian <[email protected]>
To: camslater

Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 7:20 PM

RE:?OIA suggestion + Article suggestion

OIA suggestion + Article suggestion

When it comes to corruption, New Zealand does pretty damn well.

Where there are large amounts of taxpayers money available in a bureaucratic environment there is bound to be the occasional hiccup, but you would expect that processes would be in place to detect and deal with such instances.

This is a fair and reasonable expectation when you are dealing with a large, long established organisation such as ACC or Work and Income – while they have had their issues with largesse in the past, there has not been, to date at least the wholesale embezzlement of state funds.

What then are the safeguards that are in place when a small crown entity is forced to rapidly and massively up scale its operations, make up policy on the fly, deal with a complex disaster situation, while juggling the responsibility of dealing with billions of dollars in levy payers funds?

I’m talking about the Earthquake Commission and its primary recovery agent. Fletcher EQR.

What assurance does the public have that the organisation formerly employing 20 staff, which now has in excess of 1000 employees which has paid out almost $8 billion dollars in either cash settlements or repair works for earthquake damage in Canterbury alone, has put in place the safeguards necessary to ensure that the money is spent appropriately?

In short, there are no guarantees when it comes to EQC and EQR.

Today we submitted an OIA Request to EQC requesting specific information on it’s operations and seeking answers to the questions outlined above.

[REDACTED: 14 potential OIA requests, some defamatory in nature]

If intending to publish this I would appreciate if you could refer to me as your source close to the rebuild based in Canterbury and leave it at that. this disclosure and OIA suggestion puts me at significant personal risk.Do not identify me.

The Comedian

Read more »

Labour’s 10,000 outstanding earthquake claims is actually less than 1500, busted again

Labour has proposed a horrendously expensive solution to a non-problem.

They must be rueing?the day they kicked their Treasury advisor to touch because this is exactly the sort of thing they would have caught and saved David Cunliffe severe embarrassment in launching a policy to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

The Insurance Council notes:

In a press release earlier today, Labour EQC spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove questioned the number of Canterbury insurance over cap claims with ?settlements pending?.

Insurers involved in the Canterbury earthquake recovery have 22,455 over cap dwelling claims with 87% fully settled or agreed with customers.

Based on figures collected in the CERA quarterly survey, at the end of March 2014 there were 9,877 (44%) dwelling claims closed and completely settled.

?There is a further 9,755 (43%) which CERA refers to as ?pending settlement?, which essentially means the insurance company has reached an agreement with their customer and is in the process of being settled, so contrary to what Mr Cosgrove suggests there is no dispute,? says Insurance Council spokesman Samson Samasoni.

?Pending settlement means that there are builders on site completing the rebuild or repair, it?s scheduled for a rebuild or repair or they?re waiting to receive their cash settlement. Insurers don?t call it ?completely settled? until the key to the front door has been handed over or the cheque is banked,? he says. ?? Read more »

Oh look another policy with “kiwi” tagged on the front

Labour thinks that because they tag “Kiwi” on the front of everything that people will like their daft policies.

The latest daft idea is to create a Kiwi Insurance company to try and undercut all the other companies out there. Their rationale is incredibly flawed because ultimately any insurance company operating in New Zealand alone will have all their risk located in New Zealand….and still have to seek reinsurance offshore…and therefore the underlying costs may actually be more expensive for “KiwiAssure” than that of insurance companies whose risk is spread globally.

The basic premise of insurance is to spread risk…all Labour’s policy does is concentrate risk…and we all know what happened to AMI with the Christchurch earthquake…the provincial under-cutter of insurance fell over.

Labour’s problem is that they think that if something is state controlled it is somehow better…two words…Solid Energy.

Gerry Brownlee gets stuck into them with a few home truths.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister and Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee says Labour?s policy of establishing a state-owned insurer is no different than its other half-formed ideas ? it?s emotive, shows a hopeless grasp of economic realities, and raises questions Labour won?t be able to credibly answer.

?Labour might hate private insurance companies, but the reality is they?re paying for $20 billion of the Canterbury rebuild ? twice New Zealand?s annual corporate tax take,? Mr Brownlee says.

?The fact of the matter is you can only undercut insurance competitors if you?re prepared to take greater risk. ? Read more »

Herald doesn’t even check its own files

Sometimes google is not your friend…sometimes it is. When someone rarks up in the media it is always a good idea to find out all about them, what their motivations are or aren’t.

Clearly the “decent journalists, trained and skilled” at the NZ Herald haven’t yet found it necessary to become “trained and skilled” in using Google.

If you have a quick flick on google, go back to 2011, and you get a useful insight into the motivation of the “concerned citizen” ?Bryan Staples who has put the arm on the EQC over the accidental emailing of claims to his account.

Turns out our concerned citizen is making a living out of putting the slipper to EQC

“Advocacy services are emerging up to help quake-stricken Christchurch residents resolve disputes with EQC and insurance companies.

EQ-East, founded by former EQC employee Bryan Staples, has carried out 150 independent assessments of quake-damaged homes for property owners unhappy with EQC reports or the standard of repairs managed by Fletcher EQR.? Read more »

Privacy Blackmail?

This story just gets murkier and murkier. Bryan Staples stories have never added up. First off he said he’d deleted the file, then miraculously the file turned up with Lianne Dalziel. He has been as straight as Bronwyn Pullar and Michelle Boag…anyone would think Boag was down there ‘assisting’ Staples with trying to extract some hooter.

Well it looks like it has blown up in Staples’ face:

The Earthquake Commission has laid a complaint with Christchurch police that Bryan Staples, the recipient of an accidental email including private customer information, allegedly threatened to use the email to extract preferential payment of invoices.

EQC Chief Executive Ian Simpson said the action was being taken “because the recipient has gone back on his word, and in the process may have broken the law”.

“Bryan Staples told EQC today that he will retrieve the email and attachment after providing verbal and written assurances, and a signed Statutory Declaration, that he would delete them.? Read more »

Labour’s EQC policy

I was emailed this post via the tipline, I know who sent it but they have requested their details withheld but they are someone in the industry that knows the ins and outs of housing policy.

Labour on the Earthquake Commission – via the tipline

Struggling homeowners ? those middle income families who are walking a tightrope in order to manage household expenses ? are on notice thanks to Labour?s policy for the Earthquake Commission (EQC).? The policy announced by Labour?s Clayton Cosgrove will mean significantly higher rate bills, particularly for those residential property owners in the outer suburban neighbourhoods of Auckland and Wellington who are already feeling the financial squeeze from the compounding cost of local government.

Labour?s policy is unequivocal:? universal insurance paid through local government rates, increasing EQC coverage (which means even higher rate bills to cover more generous insurance pay-outs), and the apportionment of liability based on the rateable value of property.

Let?s put things in perspective.? EQC was established in 1945 to provide earthquake and war damage cover for the purchasers of fire insurance.? The scheme was later amended to include other natural disasters, but excluded war damage.? New Zealand?s insurance policy holders have been paying premiums since Peter Fraser first conceived of the scheme, thus allowing for a contingency fund to accrue for the day it was needed.

Those days have arrived.? And the National Disaster Fund, the ultimate expression of political consensus has worked well.? Yes, EQC?s reserves have been depleted.? But New Zealand has performed remarkably well under unprecedented circumstances.? Canterbury is moving from a relief to a recovery phase, which is the forerunner to an enormous rebuild that will generate construction and jobs in New Zealand?s second largest city for generations to come.

It would be unfair to accuse the National Government of imprudent stewardship during this harrowing past 12 months.? EQC needs a boost, which is precisely the reason why Finance Minister Bill English announced in October that levies would rise.? Insured homeowners currently pay 5c per $100 of insurance cover, up to a maximum of $69 a year (including GST), as part of their insurance premiums. Under the proposed changes, homeowners will pay 15c per $100 of insurance cover, with an annual cap of $207 (including GST).

Which brings us back to Labour?s announcement.? Moving from an insurance scheme to a universal rating scheme proportionate to rateable values poses more questions than answers:

  1. If Labour desires a universal rating scheme, will this therefore require non-residential property owners (the people who own the factories, the workshops, the office blocks and the retail shops that provide the jobs for hundreds of thousands of New Zealand workers) to pay higher rates in order to fund a scheme that only benefits residential property owners?
  2. If non-residential property owners are be to liable for a National Disaster Fund, will those same ratepayers (who already pay a disproportionate amount of local government rates) benefit from that Fund?? If not, why not?
  3. What is the rating system that Labour expects to apply?? Historically smaller rural councils rate on land.? Larger urban councils rate on capital.? Why has Labour not clarified its rating methodology?? Who are the ratepayers that will be hit hardest?? Why won?t Phil Goff tell us who will pay the most?

Rating property generates many moral dilemmas.? The widow who owns a family home in Bucklands Beach or the young family struggling to pay the mortgage for the 4-bedroom home in Whitby is assumed to have asset wealth because of the rateable value of their respective property.? Yet the value of the family home does not mean the widow is any better off, or that the young family is flush with disposable cash in order to afford year-on-year rate increases.

Labour?s policy is a recipe for shifting the burden of cost to those ratepayers in New Zealand who already pay the most, and who are poorly placed to deal with the compounding cost of local government.? Auckland Mayor Len Brown?s proposed Long Term Plan budget includes rate increases of up to 50 per cent for hardworking business owners in Pukekohe.? Why should those hardworking New Zealanders ? people who have never benefitted from the National Insurance Fund in their lives ? now be singled out to pay Labour?s new wealth tax?

Labour has made a calculated decision to impress the voters in New Brighton and Shirley with a funding scheme that will ultimately hit every New Zealand ratepayer in the pocket.? And Labour intends to shift the burden of responsibility to every city and provincial mayor in New Zealand to act as the tax collector.? There is nothing courageous about that.

In 1945 Peter Fraser displayed a sense of vision.? New Zealand today is better off for his foresight.? Phil Goff?s craven calculation is mean-spirited and steeped in envy by comparison.

If you don't have a house you don't want consultation and a grass roots movement, you want a house

The Government’s new Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has been labelled bureaucratic, militaristic and the opposite of the community-led approach Christchurch needs.

Some some Prius driving hippy wowser wants hugs to be dispensed rather houses. Perhaps this is why not a single house has been built yet.

Let this dopey sheila go and live in a house with cracks in the walls, floors that arent level, shit in a bucket and boil her own water.

San Francisco consultant Laurie Johnson, a veteran of rebuildings from Chile to China, and Massey University professor Bruce Glavovic, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) chairman in natural hazards planning.

Johnson said international experience showed that governments often had a top-down, fast-track approach to rebuilding and recovery when it should be a grassroots process, the community being actively involved in the creation of the plan.

“Planning needs time,” she said.

“It takes time to comprehend the information and build trust.”

Johnson said a rush to make decisions created losers because the lack of consultation meant only the voices of the organised and powerful were heard.

The last thing we need is a talk fest. We need houses, roads, water, jobs etc. Not delay, distraction and bureaucrats. The only disappointment is in giving Gerry more powers than a Roman dictator he isn’t using them to get shit done. Perhaps that is why one of his staff prefers working for a tobacco company than working for Gerry finding him open pie shops.


So I’ve been watching the news coverage about the Village of the Damned and now I see that extra police are needed to maintain order as opportunist criminals think about looting.

The city centre was shut to the public today and will remain closed overnight with police staffing cordons throughout the area. No licensed premises will be open in the CBD.

There is a formal curfew in place between the hours of 7pm and 7am that has been put in place to protect the public from falling debris. Anyone breaching the curfew can be arrested.

Mr Parker?said he?requested Prime Minister John Key ask the army to maintain safety and security and help the police over the next 24 hours.

Of course if you are able to protect your own stuff you don’t need the Police to come to the rescue. Bob Parker should also request a shoot on sight order against looters.

My official policy, should someone ask, would be for all registered members of gun clubs should be allowed to shoot looters with the shotgun of their choice.

The movements in the iPredict stocks for the Christchurch Mayoralty are interesting too. (MAYOR.ANDERTON down 20.33%, MAYOR.PARKER up 98.97%)

I reckon all Bob Parker needs to do now to win the mayoralty is to announce that he is going to halt campaigning so he can concentrate on re-building the city. Jim Anderton will look like the greedy old venal prick that he is by continuing on.

The law allows for the elections to be delayed up to 14 days in a rolling fashion in the event of a natural disaster. Since it is a postal ballot then Bob Parker would be best served by keeping the elections on and focusing on re-building the city and looking after its citizens and leave campaigning to the venal. He is guaranteed nationwide media coverage every day, speaking as Mayor of the city, from now until the foreseeable future, no one else will get a look in.

The cost of damage from today’s devastating quake could be as much as $2 billion, Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson says.

The EQC’s claims staff had been flat out taking calls today and there was no data yet on the number lodged, he said.

“It’s very early to start estimating the numbers so far,” he said.

“At a guess, and it is just a guess so far, we are looking at …around 100,000 claims in total from the event and the cost will be easily into the hundreds of millions of dollars just for EQC for the residential property… It could reach between one and two billion dollars.”

People who had private house insurance were automatically qualified for EQC cover.

So that idea of mine to sell the South Island would have meant that taxpayer would be at least $4 billion better off already if we had flogged it off years ago.