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Law addresses Cave Creek inquiry recommendations


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

11 October 2002

New law addresses Cave Creek inquiry recommendations

Legislation has been passed to implement recommendations from the Noble report into the Cave Creek tragedy, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

“The Crown Organisations (Criminal Liability) Act removes the Crown’s exemption from prosecution for offences under the Building Act 1991 and the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

“This was the key recommendation of Judge Graeme Noble in the report into the Cave Creek tragedy in which fourteen people died when a Department of Conservation viewing platform collapsed in 1995.

“The legislation changes the longstanding principle that the Crown is immune from criminal prosecution.

“The Government believes there is no justification for allowing its departments to be exempt from health and safety and building laws that we require every other New Zealand business to abide by.

“While Government departments and other Crown-related organisations have been required to comply with the building and health and safety in employment laws, it has not been possible to prosecute these organisations for offences under either act.

“The removal of the exemption will provide incentives for the Crown to avoid instances of systemic failure (an aspect highlighted in the Noble report) and will provide for greater accountability if a breach does occur.

“A court will be able to order the payment of reparation to victims while it can also make remedial orders instructing the Crown to address the problem which led to the offence.

“Provisions in the Building and Health and Safety in Employment Acts that make senior management with a body corporate personally liable in certain circumstances will also apply to senior management in Crown organisations.

“Cave Creek was a terrible tragedy that must not be allowed to happen again. I am confident this legislation creating greater accountability for the Crown will help towards avoiding another tragedy of this nature in the future,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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