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New Zealanders are safe

16 May 2006

New Zealanders are safe

Civil Defence Minister Rick Barker hit out at criticism of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) and the new National Emergency Management Plan (The Plan) today when he said "the accusations being politicised and the amount of misinformation about the National Plan is just astounding".

"Crown Law advice to my officials is that The Plan is not ultra vires, that's the first point I want to make. The Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) group has hired, at great public expense, a top public law firm to tell them what they want to hear and frankly, they're wrong.

"The main problems the Canterbury CDEM have highlighted with the Plan focus on the meaning of the words emergency and civil defence emergency. This is quite clear, a civil defence emergency is one managed under the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002 and to include the words Civil Defence in front of Emergency neither changes the meaning of an emergency nor does it make the plan ultra vires of the Act.

"Secondly, Canterbury CDEM says that it is unclear who is a lead agency in what situation. This too is quite clear as it is explicit in both the Act and the Plan, in the event of a pandemic, Health is in charge, in the event of a terrorist attack, Police will be in charge and so on. It is very clear to government when MCDEM is in charge, and that is for events that require management under the Act.

"Thirdly, Canterbury CDEM has made much of the four R's (Reduction, Readiness, Response, and Recovery) not being included in The Plan. The National Plan clearly identifies the required objectives and there are no inconsistencies between the National Plan and the National Strategy.

"Finally, Canterbury CDEM has said, through their lawyers, that The Plan is dysfunctional. This is rubbish. MCDEM has worked very hard to develop a plan in consultation with numerous stakeholders, a plan that coordinates over 400 agencies in a way they have never been coordinated before at the local, regional and national level.

"This mischievous scaremongering is damaging public confidence in MCDEM and is for no good purpose. MCDEM is better prepared to get through a disaster now than they have ever been and we will continue to work on improving our systems. But New Zealanders must be assured that they will be looked after and cared for because they will," said Mr Barker.

ENDS

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