Story image

CERA bullish on Chch CBD anchor projects, though keeping mum on business cases

11 Mar 15

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, which was tasked with overseeing the rebuild of the country's second-biggest city, is upbeat about the prospects for anchor projects in Christchurch's central business district, but won't provide business cases for the developments until commercial contracts have been signed off.

Acting chief executive John Ombler told parliament's finance and expenditure committee the CBD projects are worth an estimated $1.1 billion, and more projects are being announced to rebuild the heart of Christchurch. CERA's initial focus was on ensuring residential properties were rebuilt and repaired, and in recent years it's put greater emphasis on key CBD projects to renew the South Island's major centre.

"One of the questions on people's minds after the central city was demolished and people moved out to the suburbs was 'would they move back?'," Ombler said. "What we're seeing here is that for many people they've got confidence and are investing in that central city."

Last year, a survey of senior leaders in Christchurch was critical of the way major projects were being procured and managed, something Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee took on the chin, saying he would work to ensure stakeholders had confidence in the rebuild.

When asked whether CERA would release business cases for anchor projects so the public could have input, Ombler said the agency wouldn't publish those reports until commercial terms had been agreed with partners.

"I would be surprised if we were able to release the business case with full commercial details prior to any commercial agreements being finalised," he said.

Deputy chief executive of implementation Warwick Isaacs told policymakers all of the projects and horizontal infrastructure, such as water and roading, were assessed to ensure the taxpayer received value for money, but that quality was also a concern.

Under questioning from Green Party MP Eugenie Sage, Isaacs defended the procurement process for the proposed public private partnership to build a convention centre in Christchurch, which he said would help reinvigorate the city as a tourism hub for the South Island.

Ombler had earlier said it was too early to provide an updated estimate on the cost of the centre, which had been flagged at about $284 million.

CERA has been rolled into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Ombler said the transition had been going smoothly, with frontline staff largely unaffected.

Ombler was appointed acting chief executive in November last year after his predecessor Roger Sutton resigned suddenly after the State Services Commission investigated a complaint of sexual harassment.

Ombler told the committee he had met with all of the department's staff since joining CERA and "didn't find anything that was broken to the extent that needed serious repairing."

Commerce Commission report shows fibre is hot on the heels of copper
The report shows that as of 30 September 2018 there were 668,850 households and businesses connected to fibre, an increase of 45% from 2017.
Dr Ryan Ko steps down as head of Cybersecurity Researchers of Waikato
Dr Ko is off to Australia to become the University of Queensland’s UQ Cyber Security chair and director.
Businesses in APAC are ahead of the global digital transformation game
“And it’s more about people and culture - about change management - along with investing in the technology.”
HubSpot announces fund for 'customer first' startups
HubSpot is pouring US$30 million (NZ$40 million) into a new fund to support startups that demonstrate ‘customer first’ approach of not only growing bigger, but growing better.
Mac malware on WatchGuard’s top ten list for first time
The report is based on data from active WatchGuard Firebox unified threat management appliances and covers the major malware campaigns.
LearnCoach closes $1.5m seed round
The tutorials are designed for students who want to learn NCEA subjects but can’t make it to a physical classroom.
Bin 'em: Those bomb threat emails are complete hoaxes
A worldwide spate of spam emails claiming there is a bomb in the recipient’s building is almost certainly a hoax.
Marriott sets up call centres to answer questions on data breach
Marriott has released an update on the breach of the Starwood guest reservation data breach which affected 500 million guests.