Developing a new Emergency Management Act

This page provides information about the development of a new Bill to replace the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.

The National Emergency Management Agency is delivering the largest change to Emergency Management policy in a generation. This includes bringing the legislation and its implementation into the 21st Century, ensuring it is fit for purpose for future needs across all 4Rs – risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery – and the whole emergency management system.

In late 2020, the National Emergency Management Agency established a Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (CDEM Act) amendment project to undertake policy development and manage the process to develop a CDEM Amendment Bill.  Amendments to the CDEM Act were required to implement the Government’s response to a Technical Advisory Group’s report into how New Zealand responds to natural disasters and emergencies.

As work on this has progressed, it became clear that the scope and complexity of the Bill related policy work meant that a new Emergency Management Act was more appropriate to progress than a general amendment bill. Subject to Cabinet decisions, the work to update the CDEM Act will shift from an amending Bill to a Bill replacing the CDEM Act.

Since the Government response to the Technical Advisory Group there have been a number of emergencies, such as COVID-19, that have provided lessons that are informing this work.

In September 2020, the then Civil Defence Minister proactively released a Cabinet Paper outlining a first tranche of proposed amendments – this includes amendments for which policy work has already been completed.

The amendments proposed in the first tranche, include:

  • clarifying roles and responsibilities e.g. making it clear local controllers have a role to coordinate emergency responses;
  • enabling an approved provider to issue warnings;
  • establish the New Zealand Emergency Management Assistance Team (EMAT) in legislation;
  • protect volunteers from civil liability when acting under the direction of a person performing functions, duties, or powers under the Act; and
  • enable a Controller or Recovery Manager to operate nationwide.

The second tranche of proposals builds on lessons from recent emergencies.

This includes a number of significant matters such as:

  • providing greater recognition, understanding and integration of iwi/Māori perspectives and tikanga in emergency management – before, during and after an event;
  • providing greater opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in emergency management planning; and
  • updating existing incentives and sanctions for ensuring greater compliance with emergency management obligations.

Subject to Ministerial and Cabinet Decisions, the Bill will be introduced to the House of Representatives before the end of 2022 or early 2023.

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