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New Civil Defence Act focuses on the four Rs

New Civil Defence Act focuses on the four Rs

The new Civil Defence Emergency Management Bill provides a balanced focus across the ‘four Rs’: - reduction, readiness, response and recovery, Civil Defence Minister George Hawkins says.

Passed today, the new Act replaces the Civil Defence Act 1983, which had become ‘barely adequate’, Mr Hawkins said.

“The new Act ensures New Zealand has the appropriate structures, expertise and resources to manage disasters at local and national levels,” he said.

It updates mechanisms for coordinating control of people and resources during an emergency, and brings Civil Defence emergency management in line with changes across government since 1983.

“For example, it’d be no good ringing the Ministry of Works for bulldozers and sandbags in an emergency because that Ministry no longer exists,” Mr Hawkins said.

Since 1983, basic services including water, power and telecommunications had become increasingly interdependent.

“As a result communities, businesses and government are more exposed to technological hazards,” Mr Hawkins said.

The new Act replaces civil defence arrangements spread over 86 local authorities with the requirement these join emergency services to form 14 Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups (CDEM), based on regional boundaries.

Each group will identify local hazards and build capability to address them in order to reduce their consequences. They will also develop responses to emergencies and facilitate community recovery programmes.

The new Act provides for Crown statements on strategic direction for Civil Defence emergency management to co-ordinate with legislation including Resource Management, Biosecurity, Hazardous Substances and New Organisms and Health Acts.

"The bottom line is this Act sets a framework to manage emergency response and recover in the shortest time possible," Mr Hawkins said.

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