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PM's Press Conference 10/04/17: Edgecumbe Flooding Update

PM's Press Conference 10/04/17: Edgecumbe Flooding Update

Today Social Development Minister Anne Tolley joined Prime Minster Bill English to discuss the flooding situation in Edgecumbe. Ms Tolley has been appointed the lead minister to oversee government assistance. The Prime Minister said, a state of local emergency has been declared but no one can know the extent of the damage until the flood levels go down. Local government is optimistic that the levels will recede more within the next few days.

Mr English announced recently that the families of military personnel buried in Singapore and Malaysia between 1955-1971 will now have the opportunity to repatriate the bodies of their loved ones to New Zealand. This will be covered by the government.

The Prime Minister made mention of the government’s support for diplomatic efforts in Syria, and closed by acknowledging the recent passing of John Clarke and Douglas Myers.

Members of the press questioned the PM about whether there will be a relief package for businesses or individuals. Mr English said there is support now but more will be determined in the next few days. It is central government’s role to fix roading, but local government is responsible for stop banks. Minister Tolley noted that the water is still at “thigh level,” which she deemed to be dangerous. More heavy rain is expected and there is uncertainty that the temporary stop banks will hold.

Questions shifted to climate change and whether or not the government is financially prepared for the potential of more weather-related disasters in the future. The issue was raised that many communities have been built in disaster-prone areas (ie. flood planes, on major fault lines). Mr English does not anticipate having to move these communities but noted that this issue is taken into account when building new structures. The Prime Minister was asked if he believes that climate change has led to weather changes, he said it is up to scientists to determine that.

Other questions involved the Reserve Bank making official cash rates, the change towards repatriation of those buried overseas, and a recent hui on TV3 about the mistreatment of children in state care. Prime Minister English still insisted it is not necessary for a formal inquiry and the government takes full responsibility. Minister Tolley described the recent changes as a large overhaul of the system. They are still looking into getting an independent complaints system.

The press conference ended with Mr English describing his favourite John Clarke moments and a brief comment on a time capsule that has been found.

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