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.
The government will fund a free and independent advisory service to assist North Canterbury residents with insurance claims, Civil Defence Minister and Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee says.
This pilot programme will be set up to deal with the specific insurance needs of residents following the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14, 2016.
“I’m sure this announcement will be a relief for many residents who may be struggling with the complexities of their insurance claims,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We have seen how much stress insurance issues can cause people, so the Crown and local authorities have been very focused on providing residents with support as soon as possible.”
Residents will be able to receive advice through face-to-face meetings with Community Law staff at local hubs.
“We are working closely with the local authorities in Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough to establish the local hubs and determine the best locations for them,” Mr Brownlee says.
The service will incorporate the experiences and learnings from the Residential Advisory Service (RAS), which has successfully assisted thousands of Christchurch residents with their insurance claims after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
The RAS has been a highly successful service in Christchurch since its establishment in 2013, advising 16,236 residents and progressing 4,484 residential property owners to a meeting with an independent advisor or broker.
The North Canterbury advisory service will be set up in a slightly different way from the Christchurch RAS, as the insurance challenges and needs in North Canterbury are different from Christchurch.
“The RAS was developed in Christchurch, revised, reviewed and adapted over a number of years as issues emerged in a changing environment.
“In North Canterbury, the situation is different, and we are still right at the start of the process, hence the decision to begin with a pilot programme with legal support which can be adapted as we go forward,” Mr Brownlee says.
The new advisory service in North Canterbury will be funded by the Crown but led and resourced by Community Law.
Residents who would like to discuss this service directly with Community Law can ring 0800EQLEGAL (0800 3753425).
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced additional funding of $700,000 for the restoration of Kaikōura Harbour, bringing the government’s total contribution to $5.7 million.
Two major commercial operators, Whale Watch Kaikōura and Encounter Kaikōura, have been working with the Kaikōura District Council and the Crown and have also agreed to help fund the harbour’s restoration.
Mr Brownlee says the collaborative approach between local and central government and business operators will mean this essential facility will be better than it was before the magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
An initial $5 million government contribution to repairs was announced in December after the earthquake rendered the harbour unusable outside high tide.
“With this additional funding we’re well on track to getting the harbour fully up and running again by October.
“The harbour is an essential part of infrastructure for Kaikōura, providing livelihoods for the operators and supporting businesses and the platform for a world renowned tourist experience.
“The initial $5 million grant was a rough estimate so repairs could get going immediately. Now that the detailed design is complete, we have a better picture of the total costs.
“It’s been a huge job. Massive amounts of material were dredged and removed after the seabed was raised by up to 2m in places by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
“The additional funding will restore the four berths and jetty, which are vital to the operations of the whale and dolphin watching tourist ventures.
“Knowing the facilities will be restored and enhanced provides a welcome platform for operators to support further development.
“Now we have certainty for Whale Watch Kaikōura and other operators. They can now plan for next season, safe in the knowledge that the harbour will be ready in time,” Mr Brownlee says.
Kaikōura Mayor Winston Gray says he welcomes the government funding and support and looks forward to the ongoing partnership with the local operators.
“Marine-based tourist attractions are so important for Kaikōura.
“They are our main drawcard. A good proportion of our workforce is dependent the tourism industry, so getting the harbour functional again by the tourist season will be welcomed by the whole town,” Mr Gray says.
Attachments: The aerial map shows what work has been completed to date and the design drawing shows what restoration project entails.
The Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee says he’s pleased recovery agencies have listened to the concerns of businesses and residents about the city’s transport plan.
On Monday, Mr Brownlee was granted Cabinet authorisation to suspend the government funding contributions of Accessible City projects being led by Crown company Ōtākaro Limited.
In phase one of the Accessible City, Ōtākaro is responsible for the delivery of three out of eight roading and transport projects, at a cost of $50 million.
“The responsible parties, Ōtākaro and the Christchurch City Council, need to work together to tweak and refine the Accessible City plan and I have been encouraging this for some time,” Mr Brownlee says.
“I’ve been particularly concerned about certain aspects of the Plan, including St Asaph St, Durham St, the area around Victoria Square and Victoria St.
“I also don’t believe adequate on-street car parking has been provided for in Accessible City and while I commend the move towards a more cycle-friendly and walkable city, a balance needs to be struck and it should not be to the detriment of the city as a whole.
“The transport chapter of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan was passed while CERA was still the lead agency in Christchurch but plans need to be flexible and able to accommodate a changing city’s needs.
“Agencies need to ensure the transport network is fit-for-purpose and will contribute to a vibrant central city rather than inhibiting access for residents, workers, business owners, developers and visitors.
“It’s my understanding at a meeting with Christchurch City Council and Ōtākaro staff and a group representing developers and business owners today that a productive way forward was agreed on.
“I welcome the anticipated changes to the St Asaph St project and encourage Ōtākaro and the council to continue to listen to our city’s users,” Mr Brownlee says.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee, on behalf of the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, has issued a Joint Communique agreeing on key areas to collaborate and coordinate.
“It was a very successful meeting, and demonstrated how New Zealand can work closely with our South Pacific neighbours to tackle the defence and security challenges for our region,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We reached agreement on a number of important areas for action.
“These include a humanitarian assistance and disaster network, building up our future young and women defence leaders, a maritime security forum, and further peacekeeping cooperation and joint military exercises.
“These achievements are only made possible by the cooperative spirit of my Pacific colleagues,” Mr Brownlee says.
The next South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, which includes Australia, Chile, Fiji, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga, will be hosted by Fiji in 2019.
New Zealand will deploy a Royal New Zealand Navy Inshore Patrol Vessel and crew to Fiji for six months from May, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Mr Brownlee and his Fijian counterpart Ratu Inoke Kubuabola announced the deployment today at the third South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Auckland.
“This is an excellent opportunity for New Zealand to partner with Fiji on maritime security and protecting fisheries – important issues not only to Fiji but also to New Zealand and the wider region.
“Fiji is an Island nation, like New Zealand, and therefore protecting our maritime resources is extremely important,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Kubuabola says he welcomes the New Zealand vessel supporting Fiji to patrol its exclusive economic zone and protect its regional fisheries resources.
“The Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Fijian fisheries personnel will work closely with the New Zealand crew on board during the course of the deployment to Fiji.
“I’m pleased to work with New Zealand as one of our close partners in the region, not only to conduct maritime patrols, but also to train together and to strengthen our people-to-people links,” Mr Kubuabola says.
Both Ministers also acknowledged the positive discussions at the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting and the agreement reached between Ministers on a number of important areas to the region.
· New Zealand is working in partnership with Fiji to further our cooperation in a range of different defence and security areas.
· New Zealand was one of the first partners to respond to tropical cyclone Winston in Fiji in 2016.
· Recently New Zealand has supported Fiji with pre-deployment training for their many international peacekeeping operations.
· Fiji and New Zealand work together on a range of regional exercises. Fiji participated in the NZ-led Southern Katipo in 2015 and will be invited to attend Southern Katipo 2017.
Ministers from Australia, Fiji, Chile, New Zealand and Tonga were in Auckland today for the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
The meeting was an opportunity to discuss a number of areas of mutual importance, including maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee will tomorrow welcome counterparts to New Zealand for the 2017 South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, being held in Auckland.
“The South Pacific Defence Ministers Meeting will bring together the highest levels of defence leadership from around our region to address common security challenges, and to improve cooperation and coordination on regional defence issues,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand is proud to host Ministers, Chiefs of Defence Forces and senior representatives from Member countries for productive discussions on furthering our regional security.
“I am particularly pleased to welcome Fiji as the newest member,” Mr Brownlee says.
Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief will feature on the agenda, alongside peacekeeping developments, women in armed forces and young leaders, and future military exercises that have been reflected in the Povai Endeavour Framework for Cooperation.
“Responding to natural crises is a feature of our ongoing cooperation. Experienced leaders will share observations on improvements we can make together, including lessons from the Kaikoura earthquake response and Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.
“As the New Zealand Defence Force gears up to welcome international participations to Exercise Southern Katipo later in 2017, it’s also timely to share experiences around our contributions to peacekeeping,” Mr Brownlee says.
The Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee has approved the first phase of future land use decisions for Christchurch’s Avon River Corridor red zone.
On March 23, Regenerate Christchurch provided Mr Brownlee with a draft Outline for a Regeneration Plan to determine the long-term uses for the Otakaro/Avon River Corridor.
“In accordance with the Act’s requirements, I’ve approved the Outline. This marks an important step forward in regeneration planning for the largest and most central of Christchurch’s residential red zones,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Now that demolitions are completed, land has been cleared and areas made safe, Cantabrians should explore the Avon River Corridor once again. I’m expecting some announcements about opportunities in the red zone in the coming weeks.
“The Crown and the people of greater Christchurch and New Zealand have a strong interest in this area and what will happen to it in the future.
“The Crown owns more than 5400 properties in the area, having spent more than $1 billion purchasing homes on severely damaged land to allow people to move on with their lives after the earthquakes.
“This is one of the most important Regeneration Plans for which Regenerate Christchurch will be responsible, so it is essential that both the process and the product are robust.
“Regenerate Christchurch will develop a Plan for area of the residential red zone that stretches from the central city to Bexley, along the Avon River.
“The Outline details the agency’s intent to involve the public and stakeholders throughout the process, include a vision and spatial plan for the area as a whole and identify the location of long-term land uses and activities.
“Development of the draft Plan will happen this year before being finalised and released to the public early next year.
“The next step will be for the Outline to be publicly notified by Regenerate Christchurch, which formally kicks off the Regeneration Plan process,” Mr Brownlee says.
The Outline can be viewed on Regenerate Christchurch’s website.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says Cabinet has approved a short-term deployment of a C-130 Hercules to the Middle East.
Mr Brownlee says the aircraft is deploying in response to a request from the Australian Defence Force to provide additional capacity during a period of high operational tempo.
“I am pleased the New Zealand Defence Force can provide this assistance, considering the significant support we receive from the Australian Defence Force in Iraq and New Zealand’s other deployments in the region,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The aircraft will carry out logistics flights in support of New Zealand and Australian operations, including carrying people, equipment and supplies to Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan and the Sinai Peninsula.
“The deployment will involve up to 30 personnel from early May to late June 2017 and is the fourth time a New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules has been deployed to the region to carry out logistics support flights.
“The estimated cost of the deployment is assessed at $1.3 million and will not require additional funding,” Mr Brownlee says.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has paid his third visit to NZ Defence Force troops training members of the Iraqi Security Forces at Camp Taji, near Baghdad.
Mr Brownlee arrived back in Dubai this morning, accompanied by Chief of the Defence Force Lt Gen Tim Keating.
“Once again I’ve been impressed by the way our trainers are able to connect with the Iraqi Security Forces,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand has 106 trainers, force protection elements and other regular force soldiers at Camp Taji, and a small number of other troops at coalition bases across the region.
“Our trainers have a good rapport with the Iraqis, and they’re respected by them, which is always pleasing to witness,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Task Group Taji has now trained well over 20,000 troops and we’re seeing a number of groups returning to upskill, as well as an evolution in the training audience. As predicted when I last visited, Task Group Taji is now training significant numbers of holding forces such as the Iraqi Federal Police.
“The need for these different forces to maintain civil order in now liberated towns and cities across Iraq is a real sign of the success of the counter-Daesh coalition campaign.
“This allows regular troops from the Iraqi Security Forces to be deployed ridding Daesh from the few but notable remaining areas of Iraq where they have a presence, such as Mosul.”
While in Iraq Mr Brownlee received briefings at coalition headquarters in Baghdad from senior members of the counter-Daesh coalition, including New Zealand’s Brigadier Hugh McAslan, Deputy Commanding General of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command, Operation Inherent Resolve.
Mr Brownlee also met with the President of the Republic of Iraq, Fuad Masum, who passed on the Government of Iraq’s appreciation for New Zealand’s support.
Prior to visiting Iraq Mr Brownlee met and discussed regional issues and mutual state interests with His Excellency Mohammed Bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defense of the United Arab Emirates in Dubai.