The woefully inadequate funding in Budget 2019 to make buildings earthquake-safe will do little to help owners and could put lives at risk by ensuring some buildings aren’t brought up to code any time soon, National’s Building and Construction spokesperson Andrew Bayly says.
“The Government’s response to this issue has been slow and poor. All we have heard from Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa and Finance Minister Grant Robertson has been soothing words but nothing concrete.
“The Botched Budget allocated a paltry $10 million for capital grants and a $13 million operational grant to administer the Earthquake Prone Building Regime. That’s hardly a meaningful contribution.
“The Government seems not to understand how much is at stake, given about $3.5 billion will be needed to bring earthquake-prone apartment buildings up to New Building Standards (NBS) in Wellington alone.
“When I questioned Minister Salesa in Select Committee this week, she labelled the $10 million Budget allocation a ‘good start’. Yet a recent meeting of inner-city Wellington apartment owners estimated the average cost of bringing many of their apartments up to NBS would be about $450,000. It’ll take a nano-second before that $10 million in capital grants is swallowed up.
“The lack of funding is of particular concern for rural towns where much of our traditional architecture is on display. In these smaller towns, rental returns aren’t sufficient to justify the expensive upgrades necessary to meet quake-safe standards.
“Building owners are now having to face the hard question – do we upgrade or demolish? Unfortunately, this Government is offering them next to nothing in terms of support.”