Government accepts quake recommendations

Minister for Building and Construction, Maurice Williamson. Photo / File
Minister for Building and Construction, Maurice Williamson. Photo / File

Ninety percent of the 189 recommendations made by the Royal Commission into the Canterbury Earthquakes have now been accepted by the Government.

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said today that 77 of the 83 recommendations yet to be dealt with had been accepted, or accepted in principal.

The 49 recommendations accepted in principal still require law changes.
In all, 170 of the total 189 recommendations have now been accepted or accepted in principal.

Of those that are outstanding, 13 are being worked on as part of the earthquake-prone buildings policy review.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry began in April 2011, and delivered the third and final part of its report to the Government in November 2012.

The recommendations included technical aspects of building standards and consent processes, how buildings are assessed following an earthquake, and training and information sharing for structural engineers.

Mr Williamson said a staged approach was being taken to the recommendations as many required law changes or significant research.

"The Government will announce later this year a new policy for dealing with earthquake-prone buildings. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is currently reviewing more than 500 submissions lodged in response to initial proposals," he said.

Work to revise the building code in relation to the structural performance of buildings was already underway, along with work on how buildings are managed after a disaster, and investigating building failure.

"We are planning work with GNS to gain a better understanding of land and natural hazards and the impacts for design and construction," Mr Williamson said.

"We are also looking to upgrade standards for concrete and steel structures and further guidance on the assessment and remediation of buildings of all types.

"It is important to remember the royal commission concluded the regulatory regime governing the building and construction industry is basically sound and that wholesale change is not required. What we have here is the opportunity to make a good system an excellent one."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is the lead agency on 177 of the total 189 recommendations, and has set a programme over a number of years to address them.

Other agencies responsible for recommendations are Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Treasury, Land Information New Zealand and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

The recommendations suggest legislative changes to the Building Act 2004, the Historic Places Act 1993, the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Earthquake Commission Act 1993.

The Government accepted all 70 recommendations in the first part of the report in August 2012.

- APNZ

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