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Govt Introduces Bill To Address Cave Creek Report

Govt Introduces Bill To Address Noble Report On Cave Creek

Legislation introduced today will allow Government departments to be prosecuted for breaches of health and safety and building legislation, Justice Minister Phil Goff and Conservation Minister Sandra Lee have announced.

This implements the last outstanding recommendation of the Noble report into the collapse of a viewing platform at Cave Creek in which 14 people died in 1995.

"There was no justification for the Crown to be exempt from the Building Act 1991 and the Health and Safety Act 1992. While departments have always had to comply with these Acts, there has been no ability to prosecute in cases of non-compliance.

"The Government strongly believes that its own departments should not be exempt from laws that we require every other New Zealand business to abide by," said Mr Goff.

"The removal of the exemption from prosecution will significantly increase the incentives for Government departments to comply with the legislation and provide for greater accountability if a breach does occur," he said.

"The Government must honour the memory of those who died by ensuring that such a tragedy is never repeated. This legislation fulfils my commitment made to the parents of the victims when I met with them at last year's anniversary," Ms Lee said.

"I have required the Department of Conservation to set high standards in the construction and maintenance of its outdoor facilities under a national visitor asset management scheme," said Ms Lee.

Under the new legislation, the Crown Organisations (Criminal Liability) Bill, Government departments will be subject to substantially the same procedures and penalties that apply to private sector organisations that are prosecuted under the two acts. Departments will be prosecuted in their own name rather than in the name of the Crown, and any penalties imposed will be required to be paid out of the department's own funds.

Ms Lee will represent the Government at a memorial service at the Tai Poutini Polytech in Greymouth on 27 April, to mark the sixth anniversary of the Cave Creek tragedy on 28 April 1995. Thirteen of those killed in the incident were Tai Poutini students and the other victim was a Department of Conservation officer.


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