Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Earthquake-prone building proposals: Have your say

Article for distribution to newspapers
By Hon Maurice Williamson, Minister for Building and Construction

Earthquake-prone building proposals: Have your say

The Government is proposing major changes to how we deal with earthquake-prone buildings, though no decisions have been taken and it’s important that people have their say, writes Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson.

In early December, I released a consultation document proposing far-reaching improvements to New Zealand’s system for managing earthquake-prone buildings.

Currently, local authorities are responsible for decisions on how earthquake-prone buildings in their districts should be dealt with. Some councils have been less active than others, depending on local priorities and views about building risk. This means many earthquake-prone buildings around the country have not even been properly identified, let alone strengthened.

Given the lessons of the Canterbury earthquakes, it seems clear the current system is not delivering good enough results. The public wants greater certainty that the most vulnerable buildings around the country will be identified and remediated.

Under the proposals in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) consultation document, there would be a mandatory national requirement and timeframe for dealing with earthquake-prone buildings.

The proposals require councils to seismically assess all non-residential and multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings within five years of the changes taking effect. Owners would then have a further ten years to either strengthen or demolish buildings identified as earthquake-prone.

This means all earthquake-prone buildings would be addressed within 15 years of the changes taking effect, compared with an estimated average of 28 years under the current system.

I want to stress that the Government has made no decisions on this. We want to hear the views of both experts and the wider community on how these proposals would affect them. We encourage you to have your say.

Making the right decisions in this area involves striking a careful balance between protecting life and safety on the one hand, and the huge costs of strengthening or demolishing buildings on the other.

There are good arguments for and against pretty much any decision that can be taken.

Major, life-threatening earthquakes are devastating, as Christchurch showed, but fortunately remain very rare. Altogether 483 people have died in earthquakes in New Zealand since 1843 – all but 42 of those perished in the Christchurch and Napier earthquakes. By contrast, around 37,000 people have died in road accidents.

But while the fatality risk from earthquakes is low relative to other risks, major shakes have massive consequences when they strike. Christchurch will take many years to recover fully, and the city will be permanently changed in many ways.

The consultation proposals resulted from a year-long review by MBIE, with input from experts in implementing the current system, including councils, engineers, property owners and heritage building interests.

If implemented, the proposals would involve an estimated spend of around $1.7 billion over a 15 year period. This is based on a broad estimate of 15,000-25,000 earthquake-prone buildings nationwide - though we acknowledge this estimate could understate the true extent of the problem, due to lack of data from many parts of the country.

That level of expense, while large, seems manageable when compared to overall building spending of around $10 billion nationwide each year. But clearly the impact would be uneven – older provincial towns with many unreinforced masonry buildings are likely to be especially affected.

We need to strike a pragmatic and sensible balance that doesn’t load unreasonable costs or strengthening timeframes on these communities, while allowing them to identify and preserve their important heritage buildings.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission recommendations for earthquake-prone buildings were released at the same time as the MBIE proposals. The Royal Commission reached fundamentally similar positions. For example, it recommended retaining the existing threshold for defining an earthquake-prone building, as does the MBIE proposals (one-third of the requirement for a new building, often referred to as 33 per cent of New Building Standard or NBS.)

However, the Royal Commission goes further than MBIE in some respects. In particular, it recommends faster timeframes for assessing and dealing with unreinforced masonry buildings.

It also recommends allowing councils to choose higher strengthening standards than the central government requirement, and it recommends bringing hazardous features of domestic buildings, such as unreinforced masonry chimneys, into the system.

Again, I ask people to take time to read the consultation document (available at www.dbh.govt.nz) and have your say through the online response form. MBIE will run public information meetings in major centres during February, giving you an opportunity to ask questions about the current system and proposed changes.

The decisions we take following this consultation could save lives if and when the next big earthquake strikes.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

  • Week in Parliament 22-05-15
  • Saturday Sitting
  • House Rises At Midnight
  • Telco Levy Bill Passes
  • Telco Levy Bill Completes First Reading
  • Social Housing Bill Passes Under Urgency

  • TPPA: University Of Auckland Warns Of Negative TPP Impact

    The University of Auckland May 20, 2015 University of Auckland Warns of Negative TPP Impact With the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation drawing to a close, the University of Auckland has expressed serious concerns about its potential implications. ... More>>

    NZ Flag: Flag Referendum Gets Hit Hard In New Poll

    The latest Campbell Live text poll confirms it is time for the Prime Minister to listen to the public and shelve his flag referendum, says the New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters. More>>

    Gordon Campbell: The Government’s Belated Moves On Property Speculation

    Is it a property tax on capital gains or a capital gains tax on property? The Jesuitical distinctions in the government’s spin about its latest moves on property speculators are all about whether the government can claim that it jumped, or confess that it ... More>>

    Grant Robertson:
    Key Can’t Just Be Prime Minister For Parnell

    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In a ... More>>

    Labour Party: More Regional Jobs Go In Corrections Reshape

    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka ... More>>

    ALSO:

  • NZ First - Prison Job Losses to Send Money Offshore
  • TPPA: ‘Team Obama’ Regroups On Fast Track, Still Not Deliverable

    ‘After yesterday’s stinging and unexpected defeat for the Obama administration’s attempt to advance Fast Track legislation in the US Senate, Senate leaders have worked up a compromise they think will get them past this blockage’, according to Auckland ... More>>

    NZ Government: 5,500 More Doctors And Nurses In Our Hospitals

    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a record number of doctors and nurses are working in District Health Boards across the country. More>>

    Controller and Auditor General: Katherine Rich Conflict of Interest Decision

    We are writing to you about a matter that has been raised with us by members of the public. More>>

    ALSO:


    Budget 2015: Andrew Little On The 2015 Budget

    Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, the Labour opposition leader attacked the government’s approach to economic issues facing New Zealand. He said they have been “more than reckless in their complacency” and “the next week’s budget will do nothing ... More>>

    Defence Force: NZDF Building Partner Capacity Mission Personnel In Iraq

    NZDF Building Partner Capacity Mission Personnel in Iraq The New Zealand Defence Force Building Partner Capacity training mission contingent is in place at Taji Military Complex in Iraq. The Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating says the ... More>>

    PM Press Conference: ACC Levy Cuts Announced

    In a press conference this afternoon in Wellington, ACC Minister Nikki Kaye proposed $500 million worth of ACC levy cuts. More>>

    Quakes: New Process For Red Zone Crown Offers

    Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced a process to give everyone a say on the Crown offers to owners of vacant, commercial/industrial and uninsured properties in the Residential Red Zone. More>>

    ALSO:

    Gordon Campbell: On The Battle Obama Is Waging Over The TPP

    For the past two and a half years, this column has been arguing that the fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal will hinge on whether US President Barack Obama can win Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from Congress... Last week, the White House finally, finally unveiled a draft TPA Bill. More>>

    ALSO:


    Gordon Campbell: On lessons for Labour from the UK election
    If the polls were right – and the pollsters kept telling us how accurate they’d been in 2010, and even Nate Silver was getting the same results – there seemed no way that the British Labour Party could lose last Thursday’s British election. With Labour predicted to win around 270 seats and the Scottish National Party batting around 55-60 seats, Labour seemed to be home free. But…as we now know, things didn’t turn out that way. Labour ended up with 232 seats and the Conservatives swept back to power with an outright majority, after winning only a little more than a third ( 36.9%) of the votes cast.MORE >>
    Also.

  • NZ PM John Key - PM congratulates David Cameron after UK election
  • The Nation IV Transcript - Hack Attack author Nick Davies
  • Get More From Scoop

     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
     
    More RSS  RSS
     
     
     
     
    Parliament
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news