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John Key

10 December, 2012

PM welcomes Royal Commission report release

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the public release today of the third and final part of the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission’s report into the causes of building failures during the earthquake.

“There were 185 people who lost their lives in the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011. Of those, 175 deaths were due to failures of buildings or parts of buildings,” Mr Key says.

“We owed it to them, their loved ones left behind, and those people badly injured in the earthquake, to find answers as to why some buildings failed so severely.”

The last part of the Royal Commission report (Volumes 5-7) covers:

  • the investigation into the collapse of the CTV building;
  • the roles and responsibilities in the building sector, including the assessment of buildings after earthquakes;
  • the training of civil engineers, and the organisation and regulation of the engineering profession;
  • the building consent process;
  • and local government management of earthquake risk.

Volume 6 of the Royal Commission’s report provides a robust analysis of the CTV building’s failure and identifies the roles that various people played in the lead-up to it failing so catastrophically during the earthquake.

“This volume of the report, while highly technical, makes for grim and sobering reading,” Mr Key says.

“It concludes the engineering design of the CTV building was deficient in a number of respects. It also concludes the building should never have been issued with a building permit by the Christchurch City Council, because its design did not comply with the standards of the time, and there were inadequacies in the construction of the building,” Mr Key says.

“The Royal Commission report also states the CTV building was given a green sticker after the September earthquake but it was only inspected by three building officials, none of whom was an engineer, and this should not have occurred. 

“We recognise this news will be of little comfort to the friends and families of the 115 people who lost their lives in the CTV building on that fateful day.

“Nothing will ever bring their loved ones back and we cannot dull their pain. My thoughts are with them as they continue to try to come to terms with their loss.”

Mr Key says the Government decided to release the last part of the report today, without an official Government response, because he wanted the families who lost loved ones to have access to the information as soon as possible.

“Family members of those who died in the CTV building were delivered embargoed copies of the report last week so they had the opportunity to read it before it was publicly released.

“Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson and Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson also travelled to Christchurch yesterday afternoon to meet some of the families affected,” Mr Key says.

Volume 7 of the Royal Commission’s report looks at the management of buildings after an earthquake among other topics.

“The Royal Commission found that, despite some problems, overall the building safety evaluation process after the Canterbury earthquakes was well delivered, and the system and skills we have are adequate. It recommends some changes to improve the delivery of the system, which follow current international best practice.”

In total, the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission’s full report (Volumes 1- 7) was more than 1100 pages long and contained 189 recommendations.

“The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of Inquiry was incredibly complex and its report has potentially wide-ranging implications for the entire country, not just Canterbury,” Mr Key says.

“The Government needs to take the time to carefully consider the Royal Commission’s report and its recommendations and expects to issue its full and comprehensive response by early- to mid-2013.

“I would like to thank Justice Mark Cooper, who chaired the Royal Commission, and the other commissioners, Sir Ron Carter and Professor Richard Fenwick, for their work. They oversaw an inquiry which was incredibly broad and complex, and involved a lot of technical detail,” Mr Key says.

As the Royal Commission has now delivered its full report it has ceased to exist, having completed the task set out in its terms of reference.