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Government must learn from mishandling of Waiho pr


Nick Smith

National Environment Spokesperson


24th October 2002

Government must learn from mishandling of Waiho problem

"The Government must review its approach to Civil Defence Hazard warnings after the fiasco last week over the Waiho River," says National's Environment spokesperson Nick Smith.

"Last week's announcement was completely over the top and is another botch up by Civil Defence Minister George Hawkins. He has been as inconsiderate to Franz Josef businesses over the Waiho problem as he was to homeowners over the leaky building crisis. In both cases he has had to back off from decisions that were indefensible.

"The Government must revise its process for issuing civil defence hazard warnings. It can't sit on a report for weeks and then without consultation with Council or property owners put out a decree requiring a business to shut down. The process must in future provide for proper consultation with affected parties. Had that been done at Franz Josef over the Waiho River a lot of heartache and bad publicity for West Coast tourism would have been avoided.

"Civil Defence Minister George Hawkins and Environment Minister Marion Hobbs owe the West Coast an apology. They can't claim that businesses must shut down one week on the basis that they can not be made safe and the next week allow them to continue to trade without looking stupid. Their incompetence has damaged West Coast tourism.

"Nor does West Coast / Tasman MP Damien O'Connor come out of this mess unscathed. Only last week he too was saying there was no alternative and he chose to back the bureaucrats over his own constituents.

"Lessons must be learnt from the last week's fiasco so other communities are treated far more fairly," said Dr Smith.

Ends

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