Royal Commission into Canterbury building failures new reporting dates announced

  • Christopher Finlayson

The Governor-General has amended the reporting dates for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Building Failure caused by Canterbury Earthquakes, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson announced today.

The Royal Commission’s report will now be delivered in parts, to allow the fullest examination of important issues while allowing the rebuild of Christchurch to proceed without unnecessary delay.

The Commissioners were originally due to report back by 11 April 2012. The first part of its report will be provided by 29 June 2012, and will deal with matters that will inform decision-making on rebuilding and repair work in Christchurch. The final date for producing subsequent parts will be 12 November 2012, with the exact timing of delivery to be determined by the Royal Commission.

The terms of reference require the Royal Commission to inquire into the causes of building failure resulting in death or injury in the Canterbury earthquakes, and also make recommendations on existing best practice in building standards and prevention of future failures in earthquakes.

“The Royal Commission of Inquiry’s hearings have been proceeding well, and produced a wealth of detail on the wide issues of the terms of reference,” Mr Finlayson said. “The Royal Commission of Inquiry presented an interim report to the Governor-General on 10 October, recording its interim findings.”

However, hearings on individual buildings have taken longer than expected, and certain evidence has not yet been considered.

“The request for an extension was made by the members of the Royal Commission, who are best placed to report on its progress after the hearings, inquiries and examination of the evidence to date,” Mr Finlayson said.

“It is important to complete the inquiry in a timely fashion for the Canterbury community and those affected by this disaster,” Mr Finlayson said. “It is also vital that the very broad technical and factual issues raised in the hearings to date are thoroughly worked through by the Commissioners, since the report will have consequences not just for Christchurch but for the whole country. The Commissioners need to be able to produce as comprehensive a report as possible.”

“The revised reporting date meets both these objectives, and ensures the rebuild of Christchurch can proceed without undue delay.”

While administrative costs of extending the deadline will be largely covered within the Department of Internal Affairs’ existing budget. Cabinet has allocated extra funding of $2.7 million for departmental and non-departmental expenses associated with reporting extensions for the Pike River and Canterbury earthquake Royal Commissions.