No room for contractors with criminal convictions

Contractors with serious criminal convictions are set to be barred from Christchurch’s earthquake repair programme.

Fletcher EQR, the project manager for properties with quake damage of $15,000 to $100,000, has launched a six-week trial to screen the backgrounds of prospective workers. Applicants convicted of offences involving theft, dishonesty, violence or the manufacture or use of class A or B drugs in the past seven years would be declined.

A Fletcher EQR spokesman said the trial was requested by the Earthquake Commission (EQC), which began vetting its own contractors last year, and was designed to ‘‘help put people’s minds at rest’’.

However, it did not apply to existing accredited contractors, for whom criminal declarations had been voluntary.

Minor convictions predating seven years would be assessed case by case and any ‘‘serious’’ past convictions, outside the seven-year time frame, would be considered by a joint EQC-EQR panel.

Cases where existing contractors were found to have convictions would be ‘‘judged on merit’’.

EQC customer services general manager Bruce Emson said the qualifications and reputation of Fletcher EQR contractors were checked and there was ‘‘already a significant degree of assurance of their character’’.

‘‘Fletcher contractors are expected to take care in the choice of their employees, and if it became apparent that there were issues with their staff it would result in a review of the contractor’s ongoing involvement with the project,’’ he said. ‘‘Nevertheless, it is hoped that more in-depth vetting will provide greater assurance if the trial proves it to be practical.’’

Labour Party earthquake recovery spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel was surprised to learn the policy was not in place already.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said it was an operational matter for EQC and Fletcher EQR. ‘‘But obviously both companies need to be comfortable with the people [doing] work on their behalf.’’


  • The Press
  • Marc Greenhill
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