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Improvements put forward for Quake Bill

Improvements put forward for Quake Bill


The Government’s earthquake legislation can be dramatically improved and the Green Party will present a series of amendments as the Bill goes through the House today.

“We want to help the Government rebuild a better Christchurch, but at the moment this is bad law with the best of intentions,” said Green MP and Christchurch resident Dr Kennedy Graham.

“Right now, the Bill gives the Government the power to suspend almost all laws in New Zealand for nearly a year and a half. Decisions don’t have to be public and can’t be challenged. It effectively gives Ministers unlimited power without accountability.

“We support the recovery effort, but the proposed emergency powers go well beyond what’s necessary.”

Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman said the Green MPs would support the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Bill to first reading but then propose a series of amendments this afternoon, including:


• A six month sunset clause with the option to extend the Bill for another 6 month period (instead of April 2012).

• A requirement that Orders in Council are made public within 24 hours and tabled in the House on the next sitting day.

• Confine the Bill’s override powers to the current list of identified Acts only.

Dr Graham also noted that the absence of any clause to define the area covered by the law was evidence of very hasty drafting.

“Our hearts are with the people of Canterbury, but we want to make sure the cure isn’t worse than the disease. There’s room for some checks and balances in the Bill.

“Cantabrians are particularly sensitive to issues of local democracy and accountability after the elected ECAN councillors were dismissed.”

ENDS



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