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Shearer wants bipartisan response to quakes

By Cullen Smith of The Star

Labour leader David Shearer. File photo  / Richard Robinson
Labour leader David Shearer. File photo / Richard Robinson

Labour leader David Shearer wants a cross-party to solving Christchurch residents' earthquake issues.

Making his first official visit to the battered city since he replaced Phil Goff, Mr Shearer today told residents in one of the worst-hit eastern suburbs that his party would do everything possible to bring their plight to the attention of MPs.

Mr Shearer spent about 45 minutes listening to the concerns of Wattle Drive residents, where people on one side of the buckled street are in the red zone, but those opposite have been told their land is stable enough to allow them to rebuild.

Kerry Simpson, who hosted the meeting which attracted about 50 residents, said 17 houses on the street were "totally surrounded" by properties in the red zone.

Mr Simpson said he and his wife had shifted "about 500 barrows" of liquefaction since the earthquakes, with the 5.85 magnitude shake on December 23 disgorging more of the silty liquid through properties along the street.

"Wattle Drive is the worst-hit street in Christchurch," he told Mr Shearer. "The land should not be built on. It's not stable. We feel like we're being ignored."

Mr Simpson said residents found it "ridiculous" that one side of the street could be deemed stable and the other zoned red.

Graham Wardrop, whose Willryan Ave property borders the red zone, said his house was evacuated three times and he was worried about rebuilding on the land.

He was still paying 100 per cent rates on the 2007 valuation, but feared the valuation on his property had plummeted.

"The equity in my house is my life savings, which is pretty much gone. I want to be red-zoned," he said. "I want out of here. I've had enough."

Mr Wardrop asked Mr Shearer to make MPs aware of his and his fellow residents' concerns.

Mr Shearer pledged Labour would try.

"We will do everything in our power to bring the issues to the attention of Parliament. But I do believe we need to look at a way we can have a bipartisan approach on this. We do need a government/opposition united approach."

And Mr Shearer said the situation in Christchurch was not going to be resolved in one or two years.

"As a result of that, I think we do need to be sitting down with the Government and looking at a bipartisan approach to the rebuild in Christchurch and its recovery."

- CHRISTCHURCH STAR

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