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Address at Emergency Management & Business Resilience Summit

Hon Nikki Kaye
Minister of Civil Defence

25 February 2013

Opening address Emergency Management & Business Resilience Summit, Wellington

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for your warm welcome; it’s a pleasure to be here this morning. I would first like to acknowledge:

• John Hamilton, Director of the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management;
• our co-chairs Jon Mitchell and Jaimes Wood;
• our international visitors and speakers, including keynote speakers Richard Serino, Deputy Administrator, and Desiree Matel-Anderson, former Chief Innovations Advisor, of the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency;
• also Professor Craig E. Colton of Louisiana State University and the Water Institute of the Gulf;
• and finally, Lianne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch.

Traditionally, this conference has focused on civil defence emergency management (CDEM), and the public sector.

This year, however, the traditional CDEM conference and a separate conference for business resilience planning for emergencies have been combined.

I applaud this initiative of the conference organisers. Both the public and private sector have roles to play in emergency preparedness, and this is done most effectively through collaboration.

Collaboration between the public, private and voluntary sectors is vital to building a resilient nation.

Our framework

As you will be well aware, New Zealand’s geology and unique location means living with natural hazards and risk is inescapable. Managing that risk is critical to our ability to prosper as a nation.

Our approach is to generate resilience – ensuring New Zealanders understand the risks they face, and have the capacity to manage those risks, respond, recover and adapt from any emergencies.

The Canterbury earthquakes were the biggest test yet of our disaster risk management framework. Despite the tragedy and costs, the experience showed that, overall, our CDEM framework works well.

Our framework was again tested last year with storms and earthquakes, and we kicked off 2014 with a magnitude 6.2 earthquake centred in the lower North Island.

As we strive for excellence in CDEM, key issues that will be discussed here today will provide us with valuable insights on how we can all share the management of emergency preparedness, response and recovery through collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and experience.

Learning from the Canterbury earthquakes

On 22 February we commemorated three years since the 2011, 6.3 magnitude Canterbury earthquake. I would like to acknowledge those of you in this room that were both on the front lines and in support roles during this time. In the middle of a national tragedy, you were forced to make the hardest decisions in the most difficult circumstances. Thank you.

What the earthquakes showed was the absolute importance of communities and organisations, including lifeline utilities, investing in risk reduction, being prepared, and having effective emergency plans in place and exercised.

The earthquakes also showed the importance of individual responsibility, and the value of community connectedness.

By involving individuals and communities in risk reduction and readiness, they will better understand those risks and how their community might respond, without needing to wait for formal intervention.

Civil Defence priorities

One of this Government’s top priorities remains the Christchurch rebuild.

It is estimated that the rebuild will have a total cost of around $40 billion. The Government’s contribution to the rebuild is expected to be about $15 billion.

The recovery in Canterbury has been strong, with positive effects on the region stretching beyond the construction sector. Apart from the 4200 construction jobs that have been created in the year to September 2013, in the same period, 9900 new jobs were created in retail trade, accommodation and food services.

The Christchurch rebuild is progressing. Construction will continue to grow rapidly, and there will be very obvious progress throughout 2014.

In my Civil Defence portfolio, I aim to continue implementing the recommendations from the Independent Review of the Response to the Canterbury Earthquakes.

Even though the review concluded that the emergency response was, on the whole, well managed and effective, there is still room for improvement.

Many of our high priority actions are underway - reviews of the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan; arrangements for delivering welfare services in an emergency; and a review of the Coordinated Incident Management System.

A review of our recovery legislation is also underway, which will strengthen those parts of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002 that provide for recovery from emergencies of small to large scale. I hope to introduce proposed amendments into the House this year.

There is also a review underway of the Building Act 2004 to support post-disaster building management and to manage earthquake prone-buildings.

Other important areas for action to generate resilience include enhancing community involvement in CDEM planning and preparedness, by harnessing and focusing community initiatives; and improving readiness in the business sector.

Moving the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

As many of you will know, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management is being transferred to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). This is a positive move for the Ministry, and will strengthen our country’s ability to respond to, and plan for, major disasters. It will provide the Ministry with a better platform to plan and manage across government for large scale events like the Canterbury earthquakes.

This transfer will strengthen the agency. Our civil defence emergency management system is world-leading in involving communities and local government in emergency management.

However, I believe there is a need to strengthen our ability to coordinate planning and management for large-scale events.

This shift will help achieve this and ensure there is improved planning across Government.

CDEM and its relationship with businesses

New Zealand’s approach to CDEM is mature and effective.

The Government has invested in science, research and monitoring which underpins our prioritisation of the four Rs: reduction, readiness, response and recovery.

Our investment in awareness campaigns such as Get Ready, Get Thru, the Drop Cover, and Hold earthquake messages, and the Earthquake Commission’s Fix. Fasten. Don’t Forget. campaign, all help to save lives and protect homes.

This work is supported by similarly mature and effective support from businesses.

A strong and successful relationship already exists between MCDEM and lifeline utilities as listed in the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002. These businesses are critical to supporting communities before, during and after an emergency. We have some excellent examples of lifeline utilities’ performance in an emergency.

For example, during the Canterbury earthquakes, Orion, the Airways Corporation, Christchurch International Airport, Lyttelton Port Company, and various radio and television broadcasters and telecommunications providers were among those that supported the response and assisted communities.

Other businesses beyond the Canterbury earthquakes have also stepped up.

Businesses like Fonterra have provided storm response teams to assist dairy farmers, and deployed milk tankers as water tankers.

Our fast-moving consumer goods sector, supermarkets, and the transport sector, are further examples of businesses that are putting plans in place to be ready and able to respond to emergencies.

Small to medium-sized enterprises

What I’ve just outlined shows that we already have strong and effective relationships with large enterprises in New Zealand.

CDEM in New Zealand is also focused on building better links with small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and improving New Zealand’s overall business resilience.

SMEs make up roughly 97 per cent of all enterprise in New Zealand, and contribute an estimated 27.8 per cent to New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product.

The devastating impact that disasters have on these businesses was abundantly clear after the Canterbury earthquakes. SMEs can also have business interruptions after emergencies, like storms and flooding.

This conference will cover a number of areas related to business resilience planning, including:

Corporate citizenship and the integration of mid to large businesses into early response planning stages; With a new technology to a faster recovery of business; and The role of fuel supply chain in case of emergencies.

Some fantastic initiatives have already been undertaken to support SMEs to enable them to continue to operate and offer employment, and to contribute to the local economy.

One example of this is the Government’s employer subsidy, introduced after the Canterbury earthquakes. This subsidy greatly assisted employers and employees of SMEs to get back on their feet, and reduce some of the stress being experienced.

Later today you will hear from Peter Townsend of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce. Peter was instrumental in getting Canterbury businesses up and running again after the earthquake. He will have examples of initiatives that work in helping SMEs in an emergency.

The CDEM sector should do more to encourage local SMEs to be better prepared, not because they have a formal role in a response, but because they are a critical part of the community.

Without them operating, the community at large will suffer.

Working with SMEs with a focus on business resilience is an integral part of civil defence planning. I am confident that we can take resilience to the next level in New Zealand, and face future CDEM challenges with the assurance that all areas of our community are ready, and able to contribute to the response and recovery.

I would like to take this opportunity as the Minister of Civil Defence, on behalf of the Government, to thank you all for your dedication and commitment to civil defence emergency management. You can all be proud of your work and your achievements.

If we are to succeed in managing these hazards and making New Zealanders resilient to the hazards we face, we must work together, learn from each other’s experiences, and collaborate to ensure the best outcome for all New Zealanders.

It is my pleasure to be with you this morning, and I declare the summit open.

ENDS

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