General policy statement
The Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquake Recovery Bill (the Bill) enables the next phase of recovery of the main affected areas (Kaikōura, Hurunui, Marlborough, and Wellington) following the earthquake sequence that started on 14 November 2016 with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake 15 km north-east of Culverden in the South Island.
The general purpose of the Bill is to assist the earthquake-affected areas and their councils and communities. In particular, the purpose is to assist economic recovery, planning processes, rebuilding and recovery of land and infrastructure, and increasing safety and resilience, as these relate to people, buildings, and natural environments. In addition, there is provision for the legislation to apply to areas indirectly affected by the earthquake sequence. This is particularly important with significant pieces of transport infrastructure, where damage to Centreport, and to the road and rail corridor between Ward and Cheviot, has knock-on effects across the state highway and coastal network.
The Bill creates an Order in Council mechanism (with necessary checks and balances) that permits the Governor-General to make Orders in Council on the recommendation of the relevant Minister to exempt, modify, or extend provisions of certain enactments. The reference to relevant Minister means, for example, the Minister for Building and Housing will be the relevant Minister if changes are proposed to the Building Act 2004.
This process facilitates recovery without needing to anticipate every power or statutory provision that may need to be amended to achieve the Bill’s purpose.
An Order in Council process was included in the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010 and continued in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011. The mechanism attracted some criticism. Its operation, however, was largely successful in providing for recovery activities for the greater Christchurch area. There were around 60 Orders in Council and no successful judicial challenges. Not all requests for Orders in Council were granted.
The Order in Council mechanism is designed to be flexible to deal with a range of potential matters: for instance, temporary housing, accommodation supplements, streamlining planning and consenting processes, undertaking geotechnical assessment, and providing greater flexibility around tax reporting deadlines.
There are a number of controls in the Bill to provide checks and balances on the process, which go beyond those in the Canterbury legislation. These checks and balances are as follows:
the order must be necessary or desirable for the proposed purpose, and the extent of the order must not be broader than is required:
there is a list of Acts that an order can relate to, and some Acts are specifically excluded (for example, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Electoral Act 1993):
a Review Panel, which must have iwi and local government representation and legal expertise, will review draft orders and provide advice to the relevant Minister:
the Minister will be required to publish his or her reasons for recommending an Order in Council, to increase transparency:
providing draft orders to the Regulations Review Committee, or to leaders of political parties if the House is adjourned:
providing for sunset clauses for both the legislation and any orders.
There is provision to add additional local authorities (in the event of another earthquake after enactment affecting the area of the authority) and to add additional Acts if it is necessary or desirable to do so for the purpose of the Bill.
The House of Representatives must confirm the inclusion of additional Acts within a specified period.
The powers in this Bill will come into force as soon as possible because it is expected that there is a need to progress some Orders in Council before the House is adjourned in December. The Bill has a repeal date of 1 April 2018.
If another emergency were to happen affecting the areas covered by this Bill, the Civil Defence Emergency Management framework would operate. This Bill does not alter the roles of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, the Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, emergency services, or the New Zealand Defence Force.