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Government releases draft Parliament earthquake arrangements

Hon Nikki Kaye

Minister of Civil Defence

8 May 2014 Media Statement
Government releases draft Parliament earthquake arrangements

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye has released a cabinet paper that outlines draft arrangements to temporarily relocate Parliament and Executive Government in case of a major emergency in Wellington.

“The draft arrangements cover a worst case scenario where the impact of a major earthquake is so severe that Parliament and Executive Government could not function effectively in Wellington,” Ms Kaye says.

Ms Kaye said they have been developed and amended through a series of workshops, and will require final Cabinet approval.

“If this scenario were to occur, Parliament and Executive Government would be temporarily relocated to an emergency facility at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland. This relocation would allow Government to continue to govern effectively, while mobilising national and international support for Wellington.

“The Government must also govern the rest of the country, and in a worst case scenario this may not be possible from Wellington if access was difficult, and communications and facilities were limited. A failure to relocate could render central government ineffective.

“In my view it would reckless to not have strong plans in place to ensure continuity of Government.

“These arrangements are needed to ensure New Zealanders have confidence that Government and Parliament will continue in the event that Wellington is severely impacted by a major emergency.

“This work is about strengthening existing informal arrangements and ensuring all parties including ministers, parliamentarians and key staff understand the arrangements.

“It is also about ensuring that Parliament can meet within 7 days of a state of national emergency being declared, an obligation under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.

“These arrangements sit alongside the wider Wellington response plans that have been developed in conjunction with local government and central government agencies. These plans are about ensuring we have good arrangements in place to support not only Wellingtonians but all New Zealanders in the event of a major earthquake in Wellington,” Ms Kaye says.

The draft arrangements give Members of Parliament and essential staff the option to temporarily relocate. There will be engagement with political parties and Members of Parliament on the arrangements in the coming months.

A briefing on the draft arrangements will be given to Ministers, the Speaker and key staff.

A copy of the cabinet paper can be found at http://www.civildefence.govt.nz/memwebsite.nsf

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