Supporting the rebuild of Christchurch is one of the National-led Government’s four priorities for this term. The economic growth forecasts that underpin this year’s Budget and the medium-term path back to Budget surplus are predicated on economic growth and the rebuild of Christchurch gathering pace.
Action needs to be swift and well directed. It is underway.
Spending to date has been focussed on restoring the City’s infrastructure. However, it is recognised that simply repairing and restoring the status quo would be a missed opportunity. The scale of the task ahead provides a chance to rebuild New Zealand’s second largest city to meet the needs of generations to come, and enable it to compete in an increasingly global market of mobile business and people.
With Government spending facing fiscal constraints, spending in Christchurch must be targeted at providing a platform for economic and social growth. Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, forecasts $2.17 billion being spent in the coming financial year on the repair and replacement of damaged horizontal infrastructure – roading, water and sewage networks. This funding will come from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund, of which $2.45 billion of the $5.5 billion allocated will have been spent by 30 June this year.
Next on the list will be the delivery of key anchor projects to attract business and people back to Christchurch.
This includes a convention centre and stadium to attract visitors back to the City and reignite the struggling local tourist industry and improved health facilities to slow the migration of people out of the region.
The newly formed Christchurch Central Development Unit has set itself an ambitious timetable to develop a Central City Blueprint within 100 days. It is hoped that once the location of key anchor projects is known that this will kick-start the re-investment of insurance proceeds alongside new private capital to quickly rebuild the CBD.
The Government recognises that it will not achieve the rebuilding of Christchurch into a world class city on its own. It has already formed an alliance of private companies and local government agencies known as the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT). This focus on facilitating the private sector to provide much of the financial and personnel resources required is likely to continue. More partnerships may be expected over the next financial year.
The National Government’s targeted spending in Christchurch will prioritise providing an infrastructure backbone to encourage economic growth and facilitate partnerships to encourage private investment into the region.