Wednesday, 29 April 2015

CECC Submission - Smart Choices 2015-2025 Christchurch City Consultation Document


The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC) is pleased to submit in response to the “Smart Choices 2015-2025 Christchurch City Consultation Document relating to the Long Term Plan” (LTP).

We consider this LTP to be the most critical in living history and one that will have more influence in determining the future direction of our city than any other plan to date. We understand that the LTP process and required inputs are described by the Local Government Act 2002 and subsequent amendments in 2014 which now require that the LTP include a financial strategy and infrastructure strategy. Clearly this plan is positioned very much in the context of city recovering and involves trade-offs and compromise to achieve optimal outcomes. It is a plan that is in the context of a city that is facing major financial shortfalls (currently projected at $1.2 billion) and some hard choices in this context. It is critical as a city we understand that:
  • This is a time for calm heads and brave decisions.
  • We need to work from first principles and have a strong vision for our city.
  • There needs to be a significant emphasis on strategic thinking.
  • We need to recognise that we are going to have to do things differently in the future than wehave done in the past.
  • There are serious considerations around long term benefits vs short term savings.
  • We need to contextualise the central city as an ecosystem for generating growth of the wider Christchurch area.
  • We have to carefully assess the level of capacity and capability the Council has to undertake its own on-going tasks.
  • We need to measure how we are making progress in the context of this city’s recovery and growth.
Click here to read the full submission.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Lest We Forget

As we enter into a particularly poignant phase of remembrance with respect to the sacrifices made in the First World War it is a good time for all of us to reflect on our history and those involved in creating it.

My grandfather’s brother, who together with my grandfather ran a butchers shop at Church Corner in Upper Riccarton volunteered to serve in WWI and died in the trenches on 12 October 1917. On 9 October 1917 he wrote the following letter to his nephew also called Sam, here in Christchurch: 

My Dear Sam

I was very pleased to receive your most interesting letter and to hear you had seen the battle pictures and tanks. You ask me if I have seen them. Yes I have been in action with them twice but they are too slow for us we usually have them far behind. We have just been in a big push and you will see by the papers captured a lot of prisoners, but there were a lot more killed than captured. They surrender at the first chance, and a more miserable lot you never saw, a lot of them are mere boys from about fifteen to eighteen and seemed very pleased to get out of it. The ground we advanced over was a horrible sight being covered with dead and nothing but deep shell holes from our guns. We have been relieved for a few days. But we are into it again shortly. It is a great pity that the weather has broken as it may stop the advance and is not too comfortable laying in shell holes when you are wet through. Myself and two more fellows were in a shell hole for three days and nights and during the day time we could not show a finger. That is the time when hours are like days. I haven’t seen Addie’s brother “Frank” yet, but I saw her brother Bill the other day for a few minutes. I could not say much to him, we being on the march, but I expect to see him again shortly. Tell Dad I have not seen Stringleman since the beginning of last August and have not seen Wilson or Newman at all. I often see Bruce Harris, he being attached to my Battalion now. Do you remember him? He used to be postman at Riccarton. Bob Raxworthy is wounded and the two eldest boys killed. I haven’t heard how the others got on in this last stint. I shall have to close now, dinner being about ready, and if a man doesn’t get in early he misses his whack. Love to all. 

Your affectionate Uncle Sam

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Canterbury Water – Are We Doing Enough?

On 18 March I was privileged to chair a free public forum hosted by the Southern Environmental Trust and supported by the Rotary Club of Christchurch South. The forum addressed the issue of the utilisation of water in Canterbury and questioned whether or not we were doing enough to optimise the quality and quantity of water available for various cultural, social, environmental and economic uses.

In short the report card came out with “good in some areas, but room for improvement”. Much of the presentation revolved around the evolution of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) which is a new paradigm in water management in Canterbury and in fact right across New Zealand. The CWMS is working and provides a cross-community intelligent approach to the achievement of desired outcomes and water management. It has created new relationships, new thinking and new solutions driven from a cross-community perspective. The CWMS depends upon effective engagement with communities, it builds on developing relationships with diverse interests across wide catchments.

There was consensus at the forum that we will reach an optimal solution for water utilisation in Canterbury, not a perfect solution. That the optimal solution will be based on collaboration, respect and consensus. The old days of a polarised debate are generally over. It is now much more about a consensual approach to the vital issues and that approach is based on accurate data, accurate information, clear understanding and good science.

Of course we do need to ensure that we take a reality check on the management tools that we are using to measure our impacts on water and it is expected that those will change and be modified over time. Importantly the forum agreed that the CWMS needs time to achieve desired outcomes. Of course there are the tensions of dealing with increased economic activity and the need for improving and enhancing water quality. There was wide agreement on the need to protect and enhance bio-diversity related to our water catchments and general agreement that the Zone Committees who manage the various catchments in Canterbury will be making judgement calls in the context of water management values.

There was also consensus on the importance of storage and the need to harvest and farm water in the foothills of the Southern Alps to make that water available to recharge aquifers, provide water for irrigation, recharge our low-land rivers, remediate some of the environmental damage done in Lake Te Waihora and ensure that we continue to have potable water for human consumption.

The application of technology to farming and how that will impact on the optimal and efficient use of water was highlighted. Farming systems that can far more accurately measure the demand for water on land and ensure that we are involved in sustainable farming practices will be the way of the future. Of course the forum was reminded that the urban dwellers of Canterbury have an impact on water consumption and are responsible to ensure it is used optimally and sustainably.

There was consensus that the costs to agriculture in adopting better water management practices on the farm are significant and that costs will need to be absorbed over time. Although dairying is a key water user in Canterbury, all farming impacts on water usage and the agriculture sector generally needs to ensure that it is playing its part in good water management.

In terms of measuring the impact of the CWMS it was agreed that the real outcome is the environmental outcome that we in Canterbury can enjoy the abundant water that is available in the right place, in the right condition, at the right time. Finally the forum agreed that water is a toanga (a treasure) that belongs to us all and that we all have responsibility for. It was refreshing to see such an intelligent and mature debate on what is such a critical issue for our region. It was also refreshing to sense the optimism there is in the pursuit of good outcomes in Canterbury water management. 

The Canterbury Water Free Public Forum was chaired by Peter Townsend, CEO of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and involved presentation by Ken Hughey (Lincoln University), Pat McEvedy (Selwyn District Councillor), Claire Mckay (farmer, North Canterbury) and Jay Graybill (Fish & Game Council). It was a free public forum hosted by the Southern Environmental Trust and supported by the Rotary Club of Christchurch South.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The social impact of being diagnosed with either Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson Disease

The Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson Disease Society of Canterbury, is conducting research on the social impact of being diagnosed with either of these diseases. Very little research has been undertaken on this topic internationally.  .The aim of this project is to get realistic New Zealand experience and information on the impact of these diseases on an individual’s employment status. We hope that our findings would assist employers to decide:
·         whether they could continue employing the person in their current role.
·         whether support mechanisms are desirable for the continued employment of the individual.
·         how and when an employer/employee discussion should take place about changing their role.
Specifically we are launching a series of inter-related studies (approx. 6-8) on the experience of employers and employees when an employee is diagnosed with MS or Parkinson’s. While not unique these two diseases have a special characteristic that they are long-term degenerative disease. So when first diagnosed a person may have many years before they are seriously incapacitated (if at all). The symptoms and progress of both of these diseases is unique in an individual.
If  an employer is able to continue their employment with confidence, they do not need to lose the experience and institutional knowledge of the person and they are also able to avoid the expensive process of hiring a new person.
All studies will be supervised by an academic and research active staff member of a NZ university. The researchers involved in the study will most likely be masters and doctoral students. Our budget for each student  is about $5800.
·         A grant in aid of $3800 towards fees (this is about  50% of their student fees)  
·          $2000 per study for costs. 
On this basis the total cost of the project would be of the order of $46000 over a period of 4 years. 
We are looking for interested employers who are willing to help fund this research project.  All sponsors and sponsorship would be acknowledged in any publications/presentations. If you would like to find out more about this project, please contact:
John A George,
 Chairman of the Research Committee of the
 Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Society Canterbury Inc.
please reply (subject: research project)