Release: Labour supports urgent changes to emergency management system

Labour welcomes the release of the report into the North Island weather events and looks forward to working with the Government to ensure that New Zealand is as prepared as it can be for the next natural disaster.

“Labour commissioned the review into the severe weather events last year in Government, so that New Zealand can be better prepared,” Labour emergency management spokesperson Camilla Belich said.

“The severe weather events included Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland floods. We are thinking of those who lost loved ones, and those still dealing with the aftermath. Many people lost everything and still have a long recovery ahead.

“I would also like to thank all of the people who responded without question, during the events and afterwards. This report is not about them, but about the system and the changes needed to ensure they are supported better.

“We encourage the Government to implement the report’s recommendations, including making legislative change, as quickly as possible.

“The report shows that the Emergency Management system in New Zealand requires urgent reform and investment to make sure New Zealand is best placed to respond to a major natural disaster. It also makes the case for increased investment in resilient infrastructure and support for local councils.

“We support the recommendation for increased staffing and resources for NEMA, including an appropriate alternative Civil Defence Headquarters outside of Wellington.

“Iwi were a significant part of the response, but their role is not formally integrated into decision making. We support the report’s recommendation to empower iwi Māori and bring clarity to the important role they play.

“We do not consider the case is made in the report for the wholescale abandonment of the Emergency Management Bill. The report provides some suggested changes and significant amendments to the Bill, but also supports some aspects of it.

“This would’ve been the quickest way to implement some of the recommendations of the report. Labour’s plan had been to make any amendments needed to the Bill following this report at the committee stages, so they could be passed straight away. 

“We are concerned that waiting to bring a new Bill to the House this term risks too much of a delay. We don’t know when the next disaster will strike and must be prepared.

“Labour is willing to work with and assist the Government in ensuring the recommendations of this report are introduced as soon as possible,” Camilla Belich said. 

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