The third and final Bill in response to the Kaikōura earthquake has passed in Parliament. It's news acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed.
The Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery Bill 2016 came about following the magnitude 7.8 quake that struck on November 14.
Brownlee says, It will establish a time-limited process to enable Acts and associated plans, to be amended by Order in Council, for earthquake-affected areas,” Mr Brownlee says.
It could be some time before the earthquake damage and the consequences of that damage are fully understood.
We need to make sure councils, utility operators and other bodies are able to respond effectively and efficiently to do what they need to do to help communities and regions recover."
Brownlee continues saying, "This could include repairing roads and other infrastructure, arranging temporary accommodation or reviewing the coastline reserve areas for marine habitats. The extent of the potential issues is not yet known.
These changes are needed where existing regulations are no longer appropriate or adequate for a post-earthquake environment, where the needs of the community have changed.
However, I expect this process will be used with restraint and that there will be due consideration for the interests of local communities and the environmental impacts of recovery activities."
Brownlee believes the Bill provides "extraordinary powers because of the use of Order in Council" and that some people may have concerns about the potential misuse of power.
"I’m therefore pleased the Bill has the support of all parties in the House. It is important to all of us that we have an appropriate mix of checks and balances to ensure powers are only used where and when they are really needed. I’m satisfied the Bill has struck that balance.
The legislation only applies to specific geographical areas and with one exception – to recognise the difficulties affected councils may have meeting administrative timeframes – the provisions of the Bill will expire on April 1 2018.
"I am confident the three Bills responding to the earthquakes will provide the legislative framework to allow us to support and promote full recovery from the November earthquakes and their aftermath.
I appreciate the effort of all members of the House in getting three Bills through during the last two weeks,” Brownlee concludes.