Minister of Civil Defence statement to Parliament that state of national emergency declared

  • John Carter
Civil Defence Earthquake Recovery

Mr Speaker

I wish to make a ministerial statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the declaration of a state of national emergency.

On the advice of the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, and in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Mayor of Christchurch City, at 10.30am I declared a state of national emergency for the Christchurch City under section 66 of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002. This was as a result of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that occurred in Christchurch yesterday at 12:51pm, and the continuing aftershocks.

It is the first time in New Zealand history that a state of national emergency has been declared as a result of a civil defence emergency event. I took this step because I considered the emergency is of such a degree that the required civil defence emergency management will be beyond the capacity of local civil defence emergency people to respond to on their own.

Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, this declaration means the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management may control the exercise and performance of functions, duties, and powers of CDEM Groups and Group controllers. There are no other differences between the powers under a state of local emergency and a state of national emergency.

The declaration of the state of national emergency will ensure the maximum possible co-ordination and co-operation between central and local resources, and international assistance. It also demonstrates the Government’s commitment to help people in Canterbury to respond to this disaster.

I would like to pay tribute to the Australian search and rescue parties who are already on the ground in Christchurch. Teams from the United States, Singapore, United Kingdom, Japan, and Taiwan will be deployed as soon as they can get here.

Offers of earthquake and rescue specialists have also been received from Belgium, Israel, EU, Greece, Malaysia, Argentina and France. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has offered assistance and International Search and Research Advisory Group (INSARAG) teams have been mobilised. An offer of assistance has also been received from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Our thoughts are with the people in Canterbury, particularly those who have lost loved ones or with loved ones still missing.