The announcement of a public inquiry into the Earthquake Commission (EQC) headed by Dame Sylvia Cartwright is welcome, but it is unlikely to bring any new information to light, National’s EQC spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“It has always been our view that an inquiry of this nature is unlikely to reveal any new information that hasn’t already been revealed through the Auditor-General looking into how claims have been handled, the Ombudsman investigation into client rights and privacy or by the Chief Executive and Chair of EQC’s numerous appearances in front of Select Committee.

“The most important thing is that lessons are learned from how we responded to New Zealand’s largest seismic event. We are confident these lessons have been learned.

“We know EQC was not equipped to deal with an event the size of the Canterbury earthquakes. So changes to the client handling model were made and when the Kaikoura earthquake occurred a Memorandum of Understanding between EQC and private insurers was signed to ensure claims were resolved efficiently and in a timely manner.

“This was a different approach than the one used in Canterbury, but has shown to be incredibly efficient and effective. With the claim settlement process progressing much faster after the Kaikoura earthquake, we can see how important these changes were, and we know if another similar event was to occur, EQC is in a better position than it was.

“While New Zealand’s expertise in reducing disaster risks is internationally recognised, it is still important to look back and make sure should an event like the Canterbury or Kaikoura earthquakes happen again we are in the best position to recover afterwards.”

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