Christchurch rebuild gets worst rating from Treasury

Gerry Brownlee under fire for the latest Treasury report (Newshub.)
Gerry Brownlee under fire for the latest Treasury report (Newshub.)

A second fail grade for Gerry Brownlee on the Christchurch central city rebuild has Labour renewing calls for him to step aside.

Treasury has given the project the worst possible rating, which means it's failing to meet schedule, budget, or quality targets.

It's the second report in a row from Treasury to give the central city rebuild a red mark.

Labour's Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods says it's clear Mr Brownlee ignored the warning.

"The Government has been dragging the chain on the central city rebuild for years -- only five of the 12 anchor projects have completed business cases despite the millions of taxpayer dollars that have been spent," she says.

"Cantabrians have been bemoaning the lack of progress and now Treasury has agreed."

In the latest report into the Government's major spending projects, the Christchurch rebuild project is the only one to be given a red rating.

"What's worse is that Treasury is now raising concerns about the way the transition away from CERA is being handled, warning that 'project planning and transition planning are not well linked'," Ms Woods says.

"These warnings must be heeded and the minister must change his approach."

But the Earthquake Recovery Minister believes Treasury dismissed the report.

"The report itself is from the mid-point of last year, it's quite out of date. If you think of all the assets that it mentions, you can see a number of them are making progress at the present time," he told Paul Henry this morning.

"The Margaret Mahy playground is probably the stand-out. That's been open since before Christmas."

National Minister Paula Bennett has defended the central city project and Mr Brownlee.

"They're not actually saying the Christchurch rebuild is not going well enough or good enough; they are talking about five particular projects," she says.

"I think that it is world-leading and they have done an amazing job. That's easy for me to say, because I'm not one of those few people in a house that's still broken and actually living a pretty hard life because of the effects of it, but when you step back and look at the overall he has done an outstanding job."

Little: Govt failing to make a decision

Labour leader Andrew Little says the report is "stunning".

"There are still big empty lots, still derelict buildings, there has been no progress."

"We know that the slow progress with the central city development stuff, particularly the convention centre, is holding back a whole heap of other investment," he says.

"This is pretty rough when the Government gets a report card from its own officials telling them 'not good enough'."

He says the response from Mr Brownlee was a common one. The slow progress is due to the Governments failure to make decisions. 

"The Convention Centre has been hanging around for months and months and months," Mr Little says. 

"Make a decision and get it going."

A Canterbury community petition is being handed to Mr Little today to take to Parliament, which Mr Little hopes will spark an inquiry into the standard of earthquake repairs. He says he hopes lessons will be learnt from the rebuild. 

"I think we just haven't been geared up enough for a civic disaster."

Labour's deputy leader Annette King also weighed in saying Mr Brownlee needs to be replaced.

"It was arrogant. He was asked questions in the House, and he in fact didn't answer them -- he just answered people," she says.

"But he was also affected by that earthquake, and I said at the very beginning Gerry is not the person to be part of the rebuild. He has to look after himself."

Dalziel: next Treasury report will be 'healthier'

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she is "comfortable" with the arrangements in place for the Regeneration Bill and is confident it will work.

Regenerate Christchurch, Development Christchurch Limited, and the Government's Crown-led company will work together in order to deliver the anchor projects, she says.

"The issues that were identified in the Treasury report, which are obviously around project management, schedules and delivery dates...[we're] obviously intimately interested in that."

"We've made it absolutely crystal clear to the new organisations that we're expecting them to work collaboratively to ensure all of these things are ticked off and that we're fully engaged in the process," Ms Dalziel says.

"I'm confident the next report will be looking a lot more healthier."