Marama Davidson - Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Bill - Second Reading

Madam Chair, I rise with pleasure to support the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Bill.

Assistant Speaker - Poto Williams: I call Marama Davidson. Tēnā koe

MARAMA DAVIDSON (Green): Tēnā koe e te Māngai o te Whare. Huri noa ki ōku hoa kaimahi tēnā tātou katoa.

Madam Chair, I rise with pleasure to support the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Bill. I welcomed the opportunity, as a member coming into this particular issue quite cold, to be honest, and also as a non-Cantabrian, a non-Christchurch resident. I really enjoyed, I have to say, the process that this particular legislation has been through to this point, which allowed me to get a clearer understanding of both the importance of this bill and what it is attempting to do to reinvigorate the community and the heart of Christchurch by reinstating the cathedral, which, of course, was badly damaged by the earthquakes in February 2011.

As we heard from many of the submitters and many of the local MPs to Christchurch as well, that it almost has not changed its look from the time it was actually damaged. People were quite concerned that even today, almost 7 years later, it still looks somewhat the same. It still is an eyesore in the community and has not allowed people to move on—not to move on to forget the tragedy but to move on and acknowledge what has happened in a way that is positive, where people can see a rebuild, a re-enjoyment of what the Christ Church Cathedral has to offer, and the absolute impacts that the current broken state of the cathedral—the disrepair state of the cathedral—has on the whole regeneration of Christchurch, and not just its immediate surroundings.

So we know that the recovery, the reinstatement, of the cathedral was sort of delayed a bit by some of the stilted conversation and the stilted debate, including litigation, and so it became on us the responsibility to somehow try and restore the process alongside the cathedral itself. And that is where this bill has come from—is my understanding—to make sure that with expedience, and a way that is cost effective, and gives earlier and greater certainty for the community of Christchurch, that we can actually move forward and progress the rebuild.

I have enjoyed being our permanent member for the Environment Select Committee for the Green Party, to sort of walk me through this process. I, too, welcomed the select committee's advice, our advice, to make sure that the work of the Cathedral Working Group, and their report was put front and centre into the consideration and the read of this legislation. It is the spirit of the recommendations of that very report, which sort of this legislation balances on.

The report from the Cathedral Working Group concluded that to repair only, or to restore only, would not be viable engineering options because they would not bring the cathedral either in part, or in whole, up to 100 percent of the seismic requirements of the new building code. And so, we have this legislation to facilitate a building that also helps us to live up to those safety requirements.

So, Madam Speaker, what does the bill actually do? And this is where I do appreciate the process of the Environment Select Committee, because the bill most certainly does give extraordinary powers to the Minister responsible for the reinstatement work of this cathedral, and we must at all times be cautious and considered with granting extraordinary powers to any representative in this House. And so cautious and considered we have been, I believe, and someone might want to correct me if I'm wrong, but that is indicated by the fact that this may be one of the first unanimously agreed pieces of legislation in this parliamentary term so far, I think. That is because we did absolutely take care in the granting of these extraordinary powers, bound and restricted by the checks and balances also contained in this legislation. The extraordinary powers manifest by an Order in Council, and an Order in Council is simply a way where the relevant Minister will be able to perhaps put to the side, extend, or add extra bits on to specific legislative requirements.

Now, the reason why this is extraordinary is because it, you know—on face value—can seem like it's a way to step around laws that we have made: and it is. And that's the heart of why we've had to be so careful about this. But I am satisfied—which is why our Environment Select Committee report was unanimous—that we have got in place good, careful checks and balances.

I do want to touch on the select committee process and the submissions that we heard, and I absolutely have to thank the officials who, in this truncated process, did some incredible work for us to bring to us all of the changes and all of the suggestions and did the investigations for us on the questions that we demanded an answer to so that we could be sure that we were granting extraordinary powers in a way that was appropriate and safe. So thank you so much to those officials.

I want to mention, in particular, the submission from the Christchurch City Council who, in all fairness, wanted to be heard that they needed to be involved from the get-go; that they want to be a close partner in developing and commenting on those extraordinary orders with the Minister. And I absolutely understand and hear that, which is why the select committee included into the legislation a proactive engagement with the Christchurch City Council and we urge, with the leadership of the Environment Select Committee, that that be one of the many relationships that must be upheld and handled well.

We did, absolutely, add more pieces of law to the schedule, so we sort of said—we did agree—that there were other Acts that should come under the net of these extraordinary powers. That can seem like a dangerous thing, and it should be seen like that, and so we had to again make sure that the Acts were relevant and that the relevant Ministers of those pieces of legislation be consulted with. So I'm happy with the way that we have added more pieces of law into the net of the Minister's extraordinary powers.

I want to talk about the select committee making sure that reinstatement—the definition of it in the bill—includes construction, reconstruction, and restoration. We wanted to capture the heart of what we mean, and allow for the necessary flexibility when reinstating the cathedral and it included, as the Honourable Maggie Barry has already stated, the new materials which could include new technologies. So that's about understanding that there is more than one way of us getting to a place where the mana and integrity of the cathedral is upheld in the spirit that the Cathedral Working Group have intended.

So moving forward, a little bit more on the checks and balances, because that is really important: the Minister's reasons for making an order for these extraordinary powers have to be published and, again, the select committee noted that those publications be dispersed in a way that is proactive, and that relevant organisations and people, regardless of whether it's in the actual legislation, we fully recommend that those proactive approaches to those organisations are made where at all possible.

The review panel absolutely must review the draft of that extraordinary order, and make sure that it checks that this is OK, that this is safe and appropriate for what is intended, and of course the public engagement mechanism is still included in this draft. I think, just to end off, really what we want here is the balance of making sure that we can heal, and assist the Christchurch community to heal, heal the cathedral, and maintain a balance of making sure that the relationships and that the community are taken with this process, and that they are never forgotten. And that was, in particular, one of the recommendations from the Christchurch Heritage Trust, that there is a way that we can do this, that takes the community with us. And so, I endorse this bill to the House. Thank you.