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More questions raised on CERA conflicts

With the admission that three more former CERA staff members are under suspicion of not appropriately managing conflicts of interest related to the Canterbury rebuild, it’s imperative that CERA’s successor organisation Ōtākaro fronts up to Parliamentary questions, says Labour’s Canterbury Issues spokesperson Megan Woods.

“The head of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Andrew Kibblewhite’s appearance today at the Finance and Expenditure Committee revealed that three more former staff members at CERA are under suspicion.

“It confirms Labour’s concerns that we might just be seeing the tip of the iceberg of systemic problems within CERA and Ōtākaro.

“The fact that three more people under suspicion have emerged today, in addition to the three people named in the report by Michael Heron QC, certainly means we need a closer systemic examination into what happened at CERA and may also exist at Ōtākaro.

“The Committee has accepted by resolution that Ōtākaro must front up so the members can ask much-needed questions into what is going on at Ōtākaro and how it manages conflicts of interest. This is something that we have to get to the bottom of.

“While the former staff members at CERA do not have ongoing roles at Ōtākaro, we need to be satisfied that the conflicts of interest don’t exist within that organisation too.

“I want Cantabrians to have faith in the rebuild process, faith in the organisations that are leading the rebuild. We can’t have faith while there are unanswered questions around the extent of conflicts of interest within CERA.

“Mr Heron’s report raises serious concerns about the culture at CERA, where key staff thought they didn’t have conflicts of interest over potentially privately gaining massive ‘finders fees’ for property deals they were connected to in their jobs for the public entity CERA.

“Ultimate responsibility lies with the Minister of Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Gerry Brownlee. He must show leadership and restore some faith among Cantabrians that the actions of everyone working on the rebuild are above board,” says Megan Woods.