Civil Defence Minister Nathan Guy has released the terms of reference for a review to identify improvements in New Zealand’s response to natural disasters and other emergencies today.
“In light of recent events such as the November 14 earthquake and fires in Christchurch, now is the right time for a fresh look at the civil defence legislation,” says Mr Guy.
“We need to make sure our approach to emergency response is world class, and fit for purpose for the events that New Zealand is likely to face in the future. Some of our experience from recent events shows there are things we could work on and potentially do better.”
The review will be undertaken by a technical advisory group drawn from current and former senior officials, and chaired by former MP and Minister Roger Sowry.
“It’s very important we have political consensus on issues of emergency management. That’s why we have set up a cross parliamentary reference group to support the work of the advisory group, and provide views on any recommendations they may make. This group has now met and endorsed the terms of reference.
“I also want to acknowledge the many professionals and volunteers who play a role in responding to natural disasters and emergencies. This review is not a criticism of the huge contribution of those on the ground - instead it’s about looking to see where we can make the system better.
“The scope of the review emphasises that an emergency response needs to prioritise the needs of the community, preventing death, injury and property damage. That means having clear authority and chains of command, good information and communications, and the right capability.”
Anyone can comment on the issues raised in the terms of reference and the group will also be looking to engage directly with key stakeholders, including local government, emergency services, relevant government departments, and iwi and Māori.
An interim report will be provided to the Minister of Civil Defence in late August.
The terms of reference are available on the DPMC website http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/review-better-responses-natural-disasters-other-emergencies. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical Advisory Group membersRoger Sowry, as Chair; Benesia Smith MNZM, independent consultant; 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.