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Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has established a Technical Advisory Group to identify where improvements in New Zealand’s Civil Defence structure could be made.

In March, Mr Brownlee convened a cross-party meeting to initiate discussions about the Civil Defence Emergency Management structure and the shortcomings highlighted by recent emergencies, such as the Kaikōura earthquake and Port Hills fires.

Following the meeting, Mr Brownlee wrote to various agencies and departments asking them to nominate someone for a Technical Advisory Group (TAG).

Cabinet this week approved the following members of the TAG:

·         Roger Sowry, as Chair;

·         Malcolm Alexander, Chief Executive, Local Government New Zealand;

·         Assistant Commissioner Mike Rusbatch, New Zealand Police;

·         Deputy National Commander Kerry Gregory, New Zealand Fire Service;

·         Major General Tim Gall, New Zealand Defence Force;

·         Sarah Stuart-Black, Director, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management;

·         Benesia Smith, former Deputy Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority

“The first meeting of the Technical Advisory Group will be in the week commencing 22 May 2017,” Mr Brownlee says.

“I’ll also be inviting the cross-party group to meet with the TAG and I would encourage input from cross-party representatives at this meeting before terms of reference are finalised and the group begins its work.

“I am anticipating the TAG to submit its recommendations to me by the end of August.

“Civil Defence has operated under the structure that civil defence is ‘undertaken locally, coordinated regionally and supported from the national level’. It’s been this way since 1959 and whether this way of operating is still fit-for-purpose needs to be scrutinised.

“I want to make clear the respect I have for the many volunteers who make themselves available after natural disasters and emergencies. The need to review the Civil Defence Emergency Management structure is not intended in any way to be a criticism of any volunteer efforts,” Mr Brownlee says.

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