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Emergency response terms very broad

05 August 2015

The New Zealand Law Society says it has serious reservations about the feasibility of an inquiry into Parliament's legislative response to future national emergencies. The inquiry is being carried out by the Regulations Review Committee.

In a submission on the Interim Report from the inquiry, the Law Society says the inquiry's terms of reference, and the issues they give rise to, are very broad.

Natural disasters and emergencies occur in many and widely different forms, the submission says, noting that the interim report refers to 19 different types of emergency plus an omnibus category of undefined or broadly defined emergencies.

The Law Society says it considers that it would be very difficult for generic legislation to cover the wide range of differing types of emergencies.

"However the proposed inquiry by the Committee is progressed, a basic concern will be the relationship between any generic statute governing national emergencies and the large number of specific emergency statutes and regulations."

Noting that the interim report does not refer to a wide-ranging 1991 report by the Law Commission on Emergencies, the Law Society suggests that the Committee should carefully consider that report. It says the issues it considers and the recommendations remain largely valid.

"Indeed, it would be appropriate and beneficial for the inquiry to be referred to the Law Commission for consideration and an updating report."

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Last updated on the 5th August 2015