Brownlee: Treasury looks 'silly' on Christchurch project assessments

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee (Simon Wong / 3 News)
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee (Simon Wong / 3 News)

Anchor projects in central Christchurch have been given a red flag in a new report from Treasury which has led the Earthquake Recovery Minister to lambast those who wrote it.

The Managing Government Investment Projects report was touted by Finance Minister Bill English as bringing more transparency to where the Government spends its money.

It covers $6.4 billion of Government spending on 409 projects, such as ICT, new schools, Defence projects and construction with a net worth of $74 billion.

But it's some of the anchor projects in Christchurch which has had Gerry Brownlee say the report was "wrong… it's that simple".

The Christchurch Central Delivery Programme was marked red in a list of monitored projects, meaning "successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable".

The generic description projects in the red category says "there are major issues with the project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable".

The report's assessments of the projects are from June this year.

Mr Brownlee says while reports such as this, of which this is the first of its kind, are important, entering the wrong information will give a wrong result.

"It is worthwhile measuring projects, but when the inputs to the measurements are wrong someone looks a bit silly out of it all – in this case Treasury," he said this morning.

He said funding was in place for the two main anchor projects – the convention centre and the Metro Sports Facility.

"They know all this, maybe one floor doesn't talk to another.

"It's probably the sort of thing you do if you do a desktop analysis without any understanding of the complexities of what's happening and if you don't talk to your colleagues about funding that has been committed through the cabinet process to these projects."

Mr English says the projects in the report are measured against a "perfect theoretical track".

"In Christchurch, almost nothing has followed that track and that's why Treasury has tended to rate them relatively low in these project assessments."

He wasn't concerned about the rating in the report, saying "considerable progress" has been made since June.

The convention centre and sports facility were in the middle of detailed commercial negotiations and there "is a lot more certainty about them" then a few months ago and funding had been largely committed.

Those projects would go ahead, Mr English said.

He said there would also be projects which wouldn't meet Treasury criteria but considered successful in the eyes of the Christchurch City Council and Government.

This included redoing the pipes and roads at a cost of around $2 billion.

But Labour's finance spokesman Grant Robertson said Mr Brownlee should accept the report and not be so defensive about it.

"What's the point of having an agency like Treasury doing this kind of report if a minister like Gerry Brownlee saying it is utter tripe?

"What's happened here is Treasury have said what everyone in Canterbury knows which is that the Government is making a mess of the rebuild," he said.

The Major Projects Performance Report assesses investments across 19 agencies using a five-point scale from red through to amber and then green.

In all, six projects were ranked red or amber/red, while 32 were marked green or amber/green.

3 News