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Civil Defence Minister Rick Barker today hit back at claims the Government's emergency planning was insufficient and would result in total confusion

Wellington and Canterbury Civil Defence emergency managers (CDEM) have criticised planning after the recent tsunami false alarm.

A report by law firm Chen and Palmer, written for emergency managers, also slates the country's diaster preparedness.

The civil defence managers claimed there was confusion over which agency was responsible for handling various emergencies.

But Mr Barker responded that the position was crystal clear.

"On the issue that they have raised about who is the lead agency the Government's perspective is very, very clear," he told National Radio.

"If there is a terrorism event then the people who are expert in that are the police -- they will be the lead agency. I don't think anybody in New Zealand could doubt that."

For tsunami it was clearly stated that Civil Defence had responsibility, Mr Barker added.

CDEM Canterbury said problems with the new plan included confusion over the co-ordination of different organisations responding to major emergencies, including a flu pandemic.

It said tsunamis, pandemics, earthquakes and volcanic hazards had not been identified as national hazards and the National Warning System about how communities would be warned about impending emergencies was not clear.

A Wellington manager echoed those views today.

Mr Barker said the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act was "a significant advance" and at its heart was that decision-making was done locally but could be escalated when the event got too big.

He accepted criticism of the National Hazard Plan.

'Not 100 per cent'

"I have to accept the National Hazard Plan is not 100 per cent completed -- more work needs to done on it -- because part of determining what is to be dealt with as a national hazard requires the work to be completed at the local level."

He added: "We do have a plan...if a tsunami was on its way to New Zealand we would have warning.

"We would press all the bells necessary to alert people through police, fire, civil defence emergency groups and we would have a very powerful and a very coordinated response. Of that I am very confident."

He said things could be done better but added "we are better prepared today than we were 12 months ago".

The criticism follows a fortnight after an inadequate response to a tsunami alert that led to hundreds fleeing their East Coast homes in a panic.

National Party civil defence spokesman Nick Smith said Mr Barker was in denial about flaws in emergency planning.

"There's been a serious disconnect between the ministry, which Mr Barker is in charge of, and the grassroots organisations," he said.

Dr Smith criticised Mr Barker for still continuing to blame media, namely the BBC, for the false tsunami story.

"It is simply ludicrous to blame a media outlet because Civil Defence in Wellington didn't answer their emergency phones."

Tomorrow Exercise Pacific Wave -- an exercise involving 28 countries around the Pacific -- will test warning procedures.

- NZPA