News from NZ Government
Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye has released a cabinet paper that outlines draft arrangements to temporarily relocate Parliament and Executive Government in case of a major emergency in Wellington.
“The draft arrangements cover a worst case scenario where the impact of a major earthquake is so severe that Parliament and Executive Government could not function effectively in Wellington,” Ms Kaye says.
Ms Kaye said they have been developed and amended through a series of workshops, and will require final Cabinet approval.
“If this scenario were to occur, Parliament and Executive Government would be temporarily relocated to an emergency facility at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland. This relocation would allow Government to continue to govern effectively, while mobilising national and international support for Wellington.
“The Government must also govern the rest of the country, and in a worst case scenario this may not be possible from Wellington if access was difficult, and communications and facilities were limited. A failure to relocate could render central government ineffective.
“In my view it would reckless to not have strong plans in place to ensure continuity of Government.
“These arrangements are needed to ensure New Zealanders have confidence that Government and Parliament will continue in the event that Wellington is severely impacted by a major emergency.
“This work is about strengthening existing informal arrangements and ensuring all parties including ministers, parliamentarians and key staff understand the arrangements.
“It is also about ensuring that Parliament can meet within 7 days of a state of national emergency being declared, an obligation under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.
“These arrangements sit alongside the wider Wellington response plans that have been developed in conjunction with local government and central government agencies. These plans are about ensuring we have good arrangements in place to support not only Wellingtonians but all New Zealanders in the event of a major earthquake in Wellington,” Ms Kaye says.
The draft arrangements give Members of Parliament and essential staff the option to temporarily relocate. There will be engagement with political parties and Members of Parliament on the arrangements in the coming months.
A briefing on the draft arrangements will be given to Ministers, the Speaker and key staff. A copy of the cabinet paper can be found at http://www.civildefence.govt.nz/memwebsite.nsf
News release from Greater Wellington Regional Council
The government’s development of a continuity plan as part of its response to a large scale disaster in Wellington has been welcomed by Wellington Civil Defence Group Chair, Nick Leggett. He says the Government should be commended for developing continuity plans which would ensure Parliament and the Government can function after a major earthquake in Wellington, in the worst case scenario by establishing a temporary seat of government in Auckland.
Of course local government also has a vital role in emergency preparedness.
“The Wellington region is not waiting for a significant disaster to occur before ensuring the key drivers for immediate recovery are planned for and in place.
“The region must be able to continue operating in the immediate aftermath of a large disaster. The key to a speedy and effective recovery is building resilience in our infrastructure and economy as well as ensuring we have a vibrant, connected and prepared society.”
Mr Leggett says the Wellington Civil Defence Group is engaging with Christchurch to apply the lessons learned from their recovery, as well as working closely with cities like San Francisco who also recognise the importance of mitigation and pre-recovery planning.
“It is important that the Wellington region plays a leading role in all aspects of mitigation and post-disaster recovery activities.
“The Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) is accordingly developing a recovery framework that would better enable a meaningful partnership between communities, councils and central government.”
Wellington City Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says her Council is considering the development of a Wellington Disaster Recovery Bill to be ready for any contingency, drawing on the lessons arising from the experiences of Christchurch.
“It would take a particularly extreme emergency for parliament to be moved to Auckland, given the significant investment in ensuring Wellington’s resilience,” she says. “Meanwhile, we’re continuing to develop plans which focus on robust and rapid economic and community recovery.”