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.
A longstanding agreement between Civil Defence Emergency Management authorities and national broadcasters has been renewed and strengthened today, Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
“While the government is working to fast-track new technology like cell broadcasting, it’s important to remember that traditional information channels provide a valuable source of information during emergencies,” Mr Brownlee says.
“During recent events, like the Kaikōura earthquake, the role broadcasters played in keeping people informed was indispensable.”
The Memorandum of Understanding with radio and television broadcasters is activated during significant emergencies in which an immediate risk to personal safety exists.
When activated, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management issues a ‘request for broadcast’ involving a statement which is broadcast verbatim at regular intervals until a cancellation is issued.
The Memorandum has operated since the early 2000s, and is used for significant and fast moving emergencies that require urgent information or advice to be relayed to the public.
“This agreement represents a continued commitment from our broadcasters to play a valuable role in keeping Kiwis safe and well-informed during an emergency, and I thank them for their participation.”
Mr Brownlee says Ministry research shows radio remains the most relied upon source of information during emergencies and is resilient during outages.
“When the power’s out, the phone lines are down and the internet is out, you can still switch on your battery powered or car radio.”
Mr Brownlee also emphasised television’s benefits in being able to display news tickers or closed captions for deaf audiences, which the new agreement has provision for.
Another enhancement to the agreement is additional flexibility in the frequency of messages.
“If a tsunami is two hours away, the broadcasts need to be issued frequently. If it’s fifteen hours away, we can reduce the frequency of broadcasts in the early stages and ramp it up when we need people to start taking action,” Mr Brownlee says.
The agreement also calls upon broadcasters to use their online channels to spread messages to their followers.
Notes to editors:
Party to the Memorandum are TVNZ, RNZ, Three, and the Radio Broadcasters Association.
The Association of Community Access Broadcasters has also joined the agreement.
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says an extension to the national transition period will continue to support recovery efforts following the Kaikōura earthquake.
Mr Brownlee has given notice of an extension to the national transition period in Kaikōura and Hurunui Districts and the Wairau-Awatere ward of Marlborough District, which will come into force at 1pm today and last for a further 90 days.
The extended national transition period for these areas will now end at 1pm on 7 June 2017, unless extended or terminated earlier.
“An extension of the national transition period will help Recovery Managers deal with ongoing recovery issues, such as restricting access to places and buildings while further geotechnical and engineering investigations are carried out,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The national transition period allows the National Recovery Manager to coordinate the work of central government agencies, while also allowing local authorities to continue effective recovery work on the ground.
“Authorities in Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough have used transition period powers to restrict access to dangerous buildings and areas at risk from natural hazards, close roads and public places, and issue directions.
“This extension will allow communities to continue their recovery activities,” Mr Brownlee says.
Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, the Minister of Civil Defence may give notice of an extension to an existing national transition period.
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the implementation of a new nationwide channel for sending alerts about emergencies to mobile phones is on track to be up and running by the end of the year.
Cell broadcast alerting is a new way of sending information to mobile phones in a set area without people needing to download an app or subscribe to a service.
“The alerts will appear similar to text messages. They are received automatically and for free by all cell broadcast enabled mobile phones in the area,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Discussions with New Zealand’s major telecommunications companies are progressing well and we expect to have contracts signed in the coming weeks.
“Once the cell broadcast alerting system is up and running, an alert will be sent out to mobile phones through the cell towers in the affected areas in the event of an emergency.
“As no technology is 100 per cent failsafe or equally useful in all conditions and emergencies, multiple channels will continue to be used to send alerts when emergencies happen.
“These channels include radio, television, websites, various social media, smartphone apps, sirens and others.
“A range of alerting methods were assessed before cell broadcast was chosen but this system gives the best combination of reach and reliability in New Zealand’s conditions.
“It will get information about an emergency to at-risk communities faster and more reliably than ever before. Plus, cell broadcast technology is not vulnerable to network overloading, so even when the networks get busy after a disaster, alerts can still be sent quickly.
“The system is well established elsewhere in the world in counties such as the US, Japan, Israel, Chile, the Netherlands and Taiwan.
“Countries including Canada, Peru, the UAE and the Philippines are in the process of implementing cell broadcast alerting.
“The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and the three mobile network operators – 2degrees, Vodafone and Spark – are working together to enable cell broadcast technology in New Zealand for the first time.
“The Ministry is working alongside the Fire Service, Police, Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries to develop a system that will work for the whole of government.
“Cell broadcast alerts don’t replace the need for people to pay attention to natural warnings, which is particularly important in the case of earthquakes and potential tsunamis,” Mr Brownlee says.