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Civil Defence review terms released

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/06/2017

A review of Civil Defence, designed to bring the emergency organisation into the 21st century, will look at its decision making and chain of command structure.

Shortcomings exposed during the Christchurch Port Hills fires mean the rules around who can call a state of emergency will come under scrutiny in the review led by former cabinet minister Roger Sowry.

An emergency response needs to prioritise community needs and prevention of death, injury and property damage, Civil Defence Minister Nathan Guy says.

"That means having clear authority and chains of command, good information and communications, and the right capability," he said.

The terms of reference, released on Friday, raise issues around volunteers not being adequately supported by professional emergency responders, information not being readily available and decisions being made by people who are not adequately skilled or experienced.

A technical advisory group of seven, led by Mr Sowry and made up of members of police, fire, defence and Civil Defence will examine the existing system and necessary changes.

Areas highlighted for consideration include who has the power to declare a State of Emergency, a need for an interim mechanism to manage a local event and response capability and capacity.

They'll also examine the need for legislative change.

Once the terms are agreed the advisory group will have three months to report back.

An interim report is expected in late August.

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