“The Severe Weather Legislation being rushed through Parliament today is better than nothing, but disappointing for all the things it doesn’t do,” says ACT’s Environment spokesperson Simon Court.

“ACT will support the bill because sure, giving hospitality owners more time for their food inspections is very sensible. Sure, letting councillors meet on Zoom is a no brainer. The limited concessions on RMA consenting are sorely needed by farmers and others trying to recover their properties. ACT Agrees with all that, it's what's not in the bill that's the problem.

“It barely scratchs the surface of the support people in Cyclone affected areas need. It doesn’t address the unease around lawlessness, it doesn’t relieve cost pressures or help people access finance, and it doesn’t go far enough in removing red tape and bureaucracy.

“The Government should immediately declare the area of Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti a Special Economic Zone to enable economic development by lifting the regulatory barriers that normally stand in the way of getting stuff built and businesses humming.

“This policy has history in New Zealand, In the wake of both the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, as well as the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, Parliament passed legislation which allowed Ministers to override legislation for the purpose of the recovery. The events of Cyclone Gabrielle meet the threshold for enacting it again.

“There also needs to be action to address the lawlessness that is creating so much extra stress for locals. They should amend section 9 of the Sentencing Act 2002 so that offending in a state of emergency would be an aggravating factor at sentencing, and invoke Section 9 of the Defence Act so the New Zealand Defence Force can assist Police with civil powers in a time of emergency.

“There is nothing to address the financial burden. The Government should cut all wasteful spending focus on recovery spending and avoid inflationary deficit spending. And increase the amount of financing available and extend the time of the exemption to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) to allow people to quickly access finance.

“These solutions were proposed by ACT in our 15 Urgent Solutions For The Cyclone Rebuild document released two weeks ago.

“People have had their lives turned upside down in the floods, this is not the time for the softly softly approach. The Government needs to go further to cut the red tape, ease the financial burden and address lawlessness. ACT has real solutions to do all of that.”

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