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PM announces Royal Commission on earthquake

PM announces Royal Commission on earthquake

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Cabinet has agreed to establish a Royal Commission on the Canterbury Earthquake.

The inquiry will examine issues around the built environment in the Christchurch CBD including, but not limited to, the CTV and PGC buildings, as well as the adequacy of the relevant building codes and standards into the future.

The Royal Commission will also take into account, but not be limited by, a technical investigation already underway by the Department of Building and Housing into the performance of the Canterbury Television, PGC, Forsyth Barr and Hotel Grand Chancellor buildings.

“So many lives have been lost as a result of the February 22 earthquake that we must find answers, particularly about why such a significant loss of life occurred in two buildings,” Mr Key says.

“We are determined to get those answers, and I believe that this Royal Commission, along with the technical investigation by DBH, will do that.”

The Royal Commission will be chaired by Justice Mark Cooper, a sitting High Court judge. He brings to the Commission extensive experience in the areas of the Resource Management Act, local government and planning.

Two other Commissioners will also be appointed, and terms of reference will be finalised in consultation with the Chair.

“This independent investigation is a vital step in rebuilding public confidence in the future of the Christchurch CBD,” Mr Key says.

“It is important that the reasons for the severity of the damage to certain buildings and consequent loss of life are understood as soon as possible.

“Therefore, Cabinet will request that the Royal Commission provide an interim report-back in approximately six months. This will include any recommendations that may be relevant to the construction of new buildings in the Christchurch CBD, while the final report-back in approximately 12 months will include recommendations on any remaining areas of inquiry.”

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson will have administrative responsibility for this inquiry, as with the Royal Commission into Pike River.

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