The National Government must stick by its word given to other political parties and release a technical report before the election addressing critical flaws in New Zealand’s civil defence capability, Labour Civil Defence spokesperson Clare Curran said today.
“Cross party talks were initiated in March after the Government was placed under significant public pressure following last November’s Kaikoura earthquake and the February Port Hills fires when a series of delayed decisions and miscommunication exposed significant flaws in our civil defence response.
“The Labour Party heavily criticised the Government’s inaction on developing a national tsunami alerting system that would give people living near the coast sufficient warning and a consistent message about the level of tsunami risk.
“Other flaws included the process of declaring a state of emergency, clarity around chains of command during an emergency, the mixed capability of civil defence organisations around the country and the under-resourcing of entities such as Geonet to provide round the clock monitoring.
“A technical advisory group was due to report back to all political parties at the end of August, before the election, in order to allow for transparency and a spotlight to be shone on the key civil defence flaws. The Government agreed to this and they appear to have broken their word.
“There are important public safety issues that urgently need to be confronted and addressed about New Zealand’s ability to effectively respond to major events.
“Questions must be asked why the report has not been released. Is the Government preventing its release to other parties? Should New Zealanders not be aware of the challenges facing the next Government to be better able to respond to natural disasters and emergencies? The report must be released before the election as promised,” says Clare Curran.