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Tuesday, 1st March 2011
The 2011 Christchurch Earthquake Disaster and the Proposal for a New Earthquake Levy for NZ Rate-Payers
By Kevin Walton

Photo: David Wethey (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/christchurch-earthquake-photos/news/image.cfm?c_id=1503036&gal_cid=1503036&gallery_id=117023#7396428)

It's been a while since I blogged about anything, mostly because I haven't really had much to blog about. However, now NZ has been hit with the biggest natural disaster it's had in 80 years.

On 3 February 1931, NZ was hit with a massive earthquake in Napier and Hastings, which saw the deaths of 256 people (161 in Napier, 93 in Hastings, two in Wairoa) (According to http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/kids/nzdisasters/napier.asp).

Now, 80 years later, on Tuesday, 22nd February 2011, Christchurch was also hit by a massive 6.4 earthquake. One week on, the clean-up and rescue / recovery process is still on. 152 people have been reported dead so far and this number is still climbing as more bodies continue to be found amongst the rubble in the clean-up process.

NZ has pulled together and is working together in the clean-up process. On top of this, in the midst of great, global financial crisis, with the world in recession, many individuals, groups, churches and organisations across the country, and even overseas, are doing everything they can to pull as much money together as possible to help with the efforts.

Then I read today's NZ Herald. The total recovery cost for Christchurch is now forecast to be $10-15 Billion, on top of the $5 Billion from an earlier earthquake in September 2010. The government will fork out $120 Million in wage subsidies over the next 6 weeks alone. Economic growth within the whole Canterbury area has been pulled to a grinding halt with many businesses in Christchurch left non-operational and unable to generate revenue as a result of the disaster. Then, of course, there is the cost of actually rebuilding Christchurch. Much of this will be covered by insurance companies, and that too will have a huge impact on the economy as insurance premiums will begin to soar. As such, we'll need to watch and see what happens to ACC levy's as the hundreds / thousands of injured in Christchurch are treated and covered by ACC.

Of course, this is all going to have a huge economic impact on the whole country, and our Prime Minister, Mr John Key, says that this will be reflected in the May budget. One of the things that John Key is reluctantly considering, is to impose an addition earthquake levy on all NZ rate-payers to help cover the costs of the disaster.

"Without an earthquake levy - which Key does not favour on grounds it would slow the economy - there will only be peanuts in the Budget for extra spending on that agenda." (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10709412).

Now, I see and fully understand that something's go to give here, but I find myself wondering if increasing taxes and levy's, etc, is the way to go. With so many people across the country already giving as much as they can towards this cause, is it possible that Christchurch is already receiving as much financial assistance as we can possibly afford out of our own pockets as it is? In fact, is it possible that Christchurch could already be receiving more money from the kindness and generosity of NZ rate-payers donating whatever they can, than they would otherwise get from the government imposing a new earthquake levy?

I guess my biggest question is, if John Key did, in fact, go ahead and establish a new earthquake levy that was compulsory for all NZ rate-payers to pay in order to cover the tremendous cost of the Christchurch earthquake, would that kill the kind and generous, giving nature of NZer's who are already giving so much? And if so, would it actually result in a back-slide in the over-all financial assistance that is being given to Christchurch in their darkest hour?

Please feel free to post your comments, and also please vote on the related topics in the voting section of this website.


Comment by Bronwen
Posted: 2011-03-01T12:42:52-06:00

That's a tough one. I would like to think it would not have that impact and that I would still donate regardless but the fact is that at the end of the day I'm just not sure I can afford much more than what I currently give.
There is also that element of freedom to be looked at. While im not opposed to a levy for the CHCH Earthquake I do like to have that option to give to who I decide to give to.


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