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Govt depts unlikely to move to regions: PM

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/11/2016

Prime Minister John Key is reluctant to consider moving government departments out of earthquake prone Wellington after buildings were severely damaged by Monday's magnitude 7.8 earthquake.

Defence House and the Government Communication Security Bureau building both remain closed after the quake, while Statistics House, which includes the Ministry of Transport, could be out of action for up to a year.

Mr Key said it wasn't new that Wellington is earthquake prone and deflected questions about whether New Zealand is left vulnerable with so many government buildings in a potentially risky location.

"I think realistically as a country we've been aware of of those issues for a very long period of time. All we can really do is accept there's a risk there and so we need to build to a higher code," he said.

But just minutes earlier he admitted he was surprised about the damage to Defence House, a new building that meets the higher codes.

"If an earthquake's big enough it will do damage to a building, and it doesn't matter how well built it is to code, it'll still sustain damage," he said.

"The issue is ultimately the safety for those that might be in the building."

Mr Key said there were advantages having government departments in Wellington, including having ministers close by that meant moving to another city was not a long term plan.

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