On Friday, the government sent out a Request for Proposal for building companies to build 2,500 temporary modular homes in Christchurch. It looks like step towards the rebuilding plan I and others have been suggesting for the past couple of weeks. Now, lets see an aggressive timetable and a plan for what comes next.
Key announced this temporary modular home plan on Q+A yesterday. Perplexingly, he played his cards close to his chest regarding where these homes will be located, when they will be build, and precise numbers (‘up to 2,500 but as many as 5,000’) but some action is better than none.
This looks like the first stage in the rebuilding plan I outlined here, here, and here. ChrisH has also made important related comments here, here, while Labour stung National over the lack of a plan last week in the House, and Fletchers went ahead and drew up its own scheme in the absence of government leadership.
Getting temporary housing up must be just one element of the plan. Concurrently, there needs to be a skills strategy. The exodus of skilled building people to Australia needs to stop and more people need to be trained. Even choosing a low-skill building system like HiB doesn’t eliminate the need for sparkies and plumbers, and only reduces the need for trained builders. Getting all these temporary houses made will be impossible if skilled trades people continue to head for Australia at rate of 70 a week. Labour has been questioning National vigorously on this issue, and been getting fobbed off, which doesn’t bode well.
Frankly, it’s a disgrace that it took National a month just to ask for this Request for Proposal. It should have been obvious to anyone from day one that thousands of temporary houses were needed. Weeks have been lost unnecessarily. It’ll be months before a significant number of houses are erected,although the government could speed things up with the use of low-skill building systems and/or a crash skills plan.
I want to hear Key say that the government intends to have Christchurch’s homeless need to be in temporary, weathertight homes by winter, 3 months. It’s a timeframe that really is ambitious for New Zealand.
And then I want to hear how the government is going to lead the permanent rebuilding. After Hurricane Katrina, rebuilding was so slow that some people were still in FEMA trailers five years later. We need to do much better than that. Again, an ambitious plan that is a real plan, unlike ‘50% by 2050’ and ‘catch Australia by 2025’, is needed along with an associated skills package.
In a concession to the point made by r0b and others, Key also indicated that there would be a new ministry of earthquake recovery. Gerry’s not going to be ‘busting through red-tape’ any more. He’s going to have his own army of red tape layers. This is an important and mature concession on the government’s part. You can’t undertake an enterprise as enormous as rebuilding a city without professional policy advise, planning, contracting, and auditing, as examples of tasks the new ministry will undoubtedly undertake. The rebuilding will have to be government-led and, without civil servants to give effect their their words, the government is just some fat guys in suits making speeches and giving interviews.
By the by, Key’s ‘10,000 homes will have to be demolished’ has now been replaced with 5,000. Key’s mistake in plucking that number out of the air was haste when speed was needed.As was the destruction of businesses in the CBD under Gerry Brownlee’s watch.
A two-day moratorium on demolitions ends today. Hopefully, Brownlee has the cowboys under control now. The fact that Clayton Cosgrove couldn’t get a meeting with the Civil Defence controller, John Hamilton, to discuss this issue on Friday because Hamilton was tied up with Prince William and Key’s photo ops is a disgrace.