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Govt allows engineers to exploit CTV loophole

The Government is compromising public safety and letting down the families and victims of the CTV building in allowing engineers to continue for decades to exploit a legal loophole for fatal design errors, National MP Nick Smith says.

“It was an injustice that the engineers of the CTV building that killed 115 people were able to avoid prosecution for their flawed design due to the loophole of the ‘year and a day rule’.

“The Government is compounding this with its Crimes Amendment Bill that allows this loophole to continue to be exploited for the thousands of buildings designed and constructed since.

“We cannot believe that the Government is going to allow this injustice to be knowingly repeated. If Christchurch has another earthquake in 30 years and one of the newly constructed buildings collapses killing a hundred people, the engineers will be able to exploit this loophole again and walk away without any accountability.

“I urge the Government parties to reconsider this Bill, listen to the families and support my amendments that ensure this loophole cannot be exploited in any future fatalities.

“I tried to get the Government to change the transitional provisions around the ‘one year one day rule’ at select committee to apply to any deaths that may occur after the Bill is passed. Labour members of the Select Committee blocked that change.

“The Government has got itself so caught up in legal knots that it has lost its common sense. No engineer that has previously designed a building expects to avoid accountability from this loophole.

“Nor is it justice for engineers when one gets prosecuted because by chance an earthquake does occur before a year and a day is up when another who makes the same error does not. The fairest way forward is to close this loophole now and for everybody.

“The most significant benefit of removing this one year one day loophole now is that engineers of any previously designed buildings have an incentive to check and correct any designs they might doubt. A key failing in the CTV case was that design flaws were identified, but no one was sufficiently motivated to fix them.

“National will be moving amendments today to fix this Bill. We urge either the Labour, Green or NZ First parties to reconsider.

“It is the eighth anniversary this week of the tragic collapse of the CTV building, the worst engineering failure in New Zealand history. This is the week to listen to the CTV families, properly fix the law and for Parliament to send a clear message about the importance of high standards of engineering for public safety.”

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