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Minister Slams Nat's Civil Defence Scaremongering

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Civil Defence

23 March 2006
Media Release
Minister Slams Nat's Civil Defence Scaremongering

Civil Defence Minister Rick Barker says the National Party seems to have no real understanding of how New Zealand’s new civil defence system operates – and that its Civil Defence spokesman John Carter should “do some research and talk to a few people” rather than launch ill-informed attacks.

He was responding to this morning’s criticisms of the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management by Mr Carter and fellow National MP Sandra Goudie.

“I am astonished by Mr Carter’s clueless criticisms of the Ministry and the country’s civil defence emergency management sector.

“His comments, conceived in ignorance, are a slap in the face for the thousands of people working in the sector.”

“Civil Defence is better prepared and organised than ever before,” Mr Barker said. “Our new civil defence arrangements are internationally admired and emulated.”

Mr Barker said the National MPs appear to have a fundamental lack of understanding of how the CDEM sector is now structured. “Sandra Goudie said on radio that Civil Defence needs to be decentralised.

“Well I have news for her, and it's all good, that Civil Defence is already decentralised, she's so five minutes ago. Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, the responsibility for planning for emergencies and response to them is primarily driven from the local level, with national arrangements to commit every available resource in support of them as necessary. My Ministry’s task is to lead and co-ordinate those arrangements.”

The Government has funded a major expansion of the Ministry as a direct result of the lessons learned from the February 2004 floods when it became clear that the Ministry needed more people to both respond to a large-scale national emergency and carry on with its ‘business as usual’.

On top of that, the Government has budgeted $6.1 million for a four-year public education campaign that is designed to raise the awareness of New Zealanders about the need to do their bit – and be prepared. This campaign is expected to start in June.

“The best thing that all New Zealanders can do is be aware and to be prepared themselves for a disaster by being self-contained for at least 3 days. The best thing National can do is a bit of homework – and show a bit of responsibility by not scaremongering.”

ENDS

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