The Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Bill

The House has unanimously passed the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Bill. As no MP objected, it was ut through all stages by leave of the House – rather than by use of urgency.

The Herald reports:

The 's Canterbury Response and Recovery Bill passed into law yesterday as political opposites Act and the Greens both raised concerns over the sweeping powers it gives ministers.

And people should be vigilant. The powers given to the Government are potentially immense.

The legislation creates an “Order in Council” mechanism that enables ministers to relax or suspend potentially every other act of – barring five dealing with constitutional matters – to the extent they may “divert resources away from the effort to efficiently respond to the damage caused by the Canterbury earthquake”.

Opposition have, sensibly, said lets give the Government the tools they need to expedite the recovery in Canterbury. I am sure they will be vigilant (as will the press and bloggers) about any actual use of the emergency mechanisms, to be sure they are not over-reaching.

It also creates the Canterbury Earthquake Commission, comprising mayors of the three affected districts and central government representatives. It will advise ministers on what Orders in Council are required to speed up rebuilding efforts. The orders must be signed off by the Cabinet and the Governor-General.

So an obvious warning bell would be any Order in Council, not recommended by the Commission.

The Greens supported the bill to its first reading but put forward amendments including limits to the scope of legislation it could override and shortening the duration for which it would apply.

As originally drafted the bill would have been in effect until 2015 but that was shortened to April 2012 after consultation with Labour.

Good to see changes made after consultation.

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