Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, March 10th, 2011 - 66 comments
Categories: disaster, Gerry Brownlee, housing, jobs, john key, Keynes - Tags: christchurch earthquake, things that didn't happen but should have
Facing a housing shortage in Auckland now and a massive rebuilding programme in Christchurch to come, the Government has announced the biggest public building initiative since World War 2. Thousands of unemployed young people will be paid to train as apprentices in building trades and contribute to their country’s future.
The Building Our Future initiative will fund apprenticeships for several thousand young Kiwis who will get their training, first, in assisting with the construction of 5,000 new State Houses in Auckland and then in replacing and repairing the multitude of homes that have been ruined by the Christchurch earthquake.
Prime Minister John Key explained:
“Christchurch is going to be a massive rebuilding job, totally outside the capacity of New Zealand’s existing building industry workforce to complete in any reasonable timeframe on top of existing demand. We could go overseas to try to find builders but that carries with it additional complications and the wages would flow offshore. It just makes more sense to take some of the 67,000 unemployed people below 24 years of age in this country and not only give them something to do and a way to earn some money but valuable skills and work experience for the future, and a chance to be part of building that future.
It’s going to be about 18 months until rebuilding really gets underway in Christchurch, Gerry will talk more about that, but there’s a housing shortage in Auckland right now. Rents are shooting up because not enough houses are being built due to the recession. And, I’ll admit we didn’t help by canceling nearly all the funding for new State House construction in the last Budget. Only 5,000 new dwellings have been consented in the past two years in Auckland, which is about half the rate needed to keep up with population growth.
So, the government will step in with the apprentice programme and a joint operation with Fletchers to build 5,000 State Houses in Auckland by the middle of next year. Obviously, these houses will be built to get the best value for money now and in the future by being constructed to meet stringent health and energy-efficiency standards. With that training under the apprentices’ belts, the focus will turn to Christchurch where the Crown/Fletchers venture will lead the construction of new sub-divisions and replacement homes.
We’re setting aside some extra money for this project but with insurance payments, State House rents, and the money saved by not having these people on the dole, we think it will work out pretty revenue neutral.
It’s kind of appropriate that we’re working in partnership with Fletchers in this. Like every major Kiwi company, Fletchers got big thanks to the government. James Fletcher designed the State Housing plan with the First Labour Government and Fletchers built the houses. When Fletchers made a loss, the government underwrote its debt allowing it to grow to what it is today. Today, as then, Fletchers and the government stand side by side to build the homes of future generations and provide jobs to the young people of today.”
The ‘Building Our Future’ initiative is just part of the ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ announced today by Prime Minister John Key and Minister for Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee in Christchurch. The Roadmap also includes:
“We can only give a rough set of dates for the time being and dates may move around but we feel it is very important that people know there is light at the end of the tunnel and that they have some idea of how long it will take to get there. Knowledge is power. It simply wouldn’t be good enough for me to make ominous and vague pronouncements from afar like ‘you might not know for three months whether we’re tearing down your house’. Look, there’s bad news on the way for a lot of families out there that but we want you to know that these are all steps to a brighter future and the government will walk that path beside you. We have a plan and we are sharing that plan with you.”
In other news, Prince William has canceled his visit to Christchurch and, instead, bought 200 Portaloos and sent them by plane. “I just thought the people would appreciate something that would actually make a difference in their lives” said the second in line to the throne.
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Nah. Not really.
As Phil Goff revealed yesterday, Christchurch building companies are currently laying off staff and over 3,400 building industry workers leaving the country in the past year, including 350 just in January. Yet Key says the market will take care of providing all the building trades people – they’ll magically appear when demand picks up and he has no intention of increasing training or working to make sure we hold on to our skilled workers. And English defends cutting apprenticeships funding.
Eastern Suburbs residents say its not the conditions that they’re living in that is the problem but not knowing when it will end or how they will move forward. Brownlee says ‘I’ll tell you what’s going to happen to your houses in a few weeks, or a few months’
Meanwhile, Key’s trying to work out how to smile and wave behind a visor with cricket gloves on. Don’t get me wrong. I love cricket and I’ll be at the Basin on Sunday chucking some extra money into Hadlee’s bucket. I just don’t get why Key thinks he should be making it all about him. Or why he thinks clowning around is the best way the PM can help Christchurch.
At least there’s the Royal visit to look forward to. I wonder if Wills will bring Kate! I can hardly wait!