Monday, July 15, 2024

New Bill to better manage emergency response

Legislation introduced in Parliament today will help to ensure New Zealand’s emergency management system learns the lessons of recent and previous responses to natural disasters, including severe weather events and other emergencies, says Emergency Management Minister, Kieran McAnulty.

The Emergency Management Bill replaces the two decades old Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.

“The strength of our emergency management system is that it is locally led,” said Mr McAnulty.

“This Bill reinforces that approach while also clarifying the role central government can play. It’s not designed as a fundamental transformation, but instead makes some practical improvements to ensure the system is best placed for the future.”

Key changes include:

  • clarifying roles and responsibilities across the system at national, regional, and local levels;
  • requiring Civil Defence Emergency Management Group plans to identify and engage with communities that are disproportionately impacted by emergencies;
  • recognising the important role Māori play in Aotearoa New Zealand’s emergency management system, and enhancing Māori participation at all levels – national, regional, and local, and across strategic, planning, and operational activity.

“The Government, and I know Parliament is too, is committed to ensuring New Zealand’s emergency management system is the best it can be to deal with future emergencies,” the Minister said.

“Where possible, we will look to shape the Bill’s proposals during the Select Committee and Committee of the Whole House stages in the House, if required.”

Regulations, rules, and guidance will also be needed to give effect to, or support, the Bill to achieve the desired outcomes. These will be drafted, and come into effect, after the Bill is passed, the Minister said.

“I encourage people to make submissions to the Select Committee. Hearing a wide range of views, experiences and ideas is essential for ensuring that the legislation that underpins our emergency management system is inclusive, and will deliver better outcomes for all people before, during, and after emergencies.

“I recognise that this is a busy time for local government, particularly in light of the local government reforms and recent emergencies like Cyclone Gabrielle.

“I will encourage the Select Committee to extend the standard period for submissions to help reduce the impact on their workloads and give as much time as possible to refine the bill and get it right,” said Mr McAnulty.

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