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Civil Defence Emergency Management Bill Introduced

Civil Defence Emergency Management Bill Introduced To House

Minister of Civil Defence Hon. George Hawkins said a new Bill that will ensure New Zealand is capable of managing an emergency of national and local significance has been introduced to the House.

The Civil Defence Emergency Management Bill is necessary to provide a platform and framework to ensure this managed capability is achieved.

George Hawkins said: "New Zealand has a significant exposure to environmental hazards and an increasing exposure to technological hazards.

"Since 1983, the government and economic structures have changed in ways that make the current Civil Defence Act impractical.

"At the same time more effective ways to manage hazards through a comprehensive risk management approach are now recognised as best practice, but are outside the conceptual and organisational framework of the current Act.

"As a consequence of these changes, New Zealand's capability to deal with a large scale emergency event is barely adequate," George Hawkins said.

The Bill requires local authorities to join with emergency services to form civil defence emergency management groups (CDEMGs). These groups will be based on regional boundaries. Members within each group will co-ordinate in:
 identifying local hazards
 building capability and expertise to address those hazards
 reducing the likely consequences of hazards
 developing planned responses to emergencies
 facilitating community recovery programmes.

George Hawkins said: "Mayors will retain the right to declare a local state of emergency. The Bill encourages Civil Defence Emergency Management Group members to agree to a planned response and to share resources.

"The Bill also describes what is to be done by whom but allows discretion on how," George Hawkins said.

Key components of the Bill are:
 that Civil Defence Emergency Management take a risk management approach
 national and local plans, based on regional boundaries, will be developed
 local planning is to be consistent with a national strategy
 other than in a state of emergency, powers and processes are in existing legislation (e.g. Resource Management Act and Local Government Act)
 Emergency powers.

"The current Civil Defence Act gives inadequate attention to risk reduction and some aspects of readiness. The new Bill adopts the 4Rs concept of Reduction, Readiness, Response, and Recovery," George Hawkins said.

Differences between the proposed Bill and the current Civil Defence Act
Civil Defence Emergency Management Bill Civil Defence Act
4Rs concept -reduction, readiness, response & recovery Inadequate attention to risk reduction and some aspects of readiness
Local authorities co-operating in regional groups Each local authority is independent
A National Strategy No opportunity for the Crown to set a strategic direction
National capability builds from regional groups National capability stands alone
Requirements for publicly consulted plans No requirements for consultation
Duties and powers that meet Bill of Rights standards Little accountability for powers
An ‘all-hazards’ and risk management approach Some hazards (e.g. technological failure) not envisaged in 1983

The Bill will also:
 enable government to determine and control its exposure [economic and social] to a range of hazards
 make Civil Defence Emergency Management consistent with altered roles and capabilities though government, local government and the private sector
 improve local capacity to deal with emergencies and understanding of how to develop and allocate resources
 update the mechanisms for the co-ordinated control of people and resources during an emergency
 increase the focus on risk reduction and readiness so that communities are more resilient to emergencies
 provide for Crown statements on strategic direction for Civil Defence Emergency Management
 co-ordinate Civil Defence Emergency Management with other recent legislation such as the Resource Management, Biosecurity, Hazardous Substances & New Organisms and Health Acts.

George Hawkins said: "I have received overwhelming support from mayors for the introduction of this Civil Defence Emergency Management Bill.

"On becoming law, this Bill will ensure New Zealanders are better equipped to reduce risks of civil emergencies, and able to assume an improved state of readiness. It will also ensure New Zealanders are prepared for a managed response to an emergency, and are able to recover from an emergency in the shortest time possible," George Hawkins said.


Ends

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