Tuesday, July 16, 2024

New Bill to replace ageing Civil Defence Act

New legislation will ensure that New Zealand’s emergency management system is inclusive, modern and fit-for-purpose, Minister for Emergency Management, Kiri Allan has announced.

A new Bill that builds on what already works will be introduced to replace the now two decades old Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, Minister Allan said today.

“The proposed Emergency Management Act will not be a fundamental transformation of the emergency management system but will instead address a number of identified shortcomings to ensure the system can meet current and future needs,” she said.

“A programme of work to build capacity and capability has been underway since a Ministerial Review highlighted vulnerabilities in the system, particularly in the response phase, following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake and the 2017 Port Hill fire.

“Since then the Government allocated $46.6m over four years in Budget 2021 to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to strengthen our emergency management system and support inclusive, community-led responses to natural disasters and health events.”

The Minister said the new Bill will introduce changes that clarify the roles and responsibilities at the national, regional, and local levels, and those of New Zealand’s critical infrastructure providers to ensure optimal use of resources and coordination of effort.

“NEMA’s chief executive will have the power to authorise ‘emergency management rules’, making the system more flexible. For example, rules could be used to specify what health and disability services will do in an emergency, or set out who is responsible for what during a mass evacuation.”

“It currently requires considerable time and effort to update even the most minor provisions. 

“The Bill will also better enable Māori throughout the system, at governance, planning and operational levels – by recognising the crucial role Māori and marae play in community responses to emergencies,” Ms Allan said.

More information on the work to develop the new Bill and other aspects of the emergency management system reforms is available at https://www.civildefence.govt.nz/cdem-sector/regulatory-framework-review-trifecta-programme/

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