A&F Bulletin - Quake a reminder of need to be prepared

Monday, July 11, 2016

The recent 4.6 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks near Seddon were another timely reminder that we need to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at us.

While by all accounts the quake was widely felt but did not cause property damage, some would have experienced an unwelcome return of the nerves and anxiety that followed the Cook Strait and Grassmere earthquakes of 2013.

We have, of course, learned a lot from Christchurch, including the fact that these things take a while to settle down. All we can do is prepare ourselves as best we can by having emergency kits ready and reminding our families of what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Additionally, based on lessons from Christchurch’s events, legislation is now before Parliament aimed at helping communities better recover from small to medium scale emergencies.

This year’s Budget also provided an extra $6.1 million of operating funding for Civil Defence, and $63,000 of new capital funding for the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

This new funding will improve the Ministry’s ability to provide more nationwide support and leadership by supporting our local councils, communities and businesses to identify and plan for hazards.

In the event of a natural disaster, the funding will also ensure we are better placed to respond to and manage the risks posed by a range of natural hazards and other disasters.

Part of managing these risks is focussing on areas where we can improve our highways and looking at how vulnerable they may be in a major earthquake. The closure of these highways would, of course, isolate entire communities, with rural areas at particular risk.

Currently, the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) is conducting a major survey on State Highway 1 between Picton and Christchurch, and this study will be publicly released later this year.

Another issue that Mother Nature continues to throw at us is this drought. Although parts of Marlborough have been welcoming sporadic winter rain, as a whole our long-term rainfall figures remain below average.

In southern Marlborough, it’s not been an ideal season and even when the rain does fall, the reality is that the drought will take time to recover from. The nature of primary production is managing risks, and Marlborough’s farmers are doing the best with the cards they have been dealt.

In the southern area of our electorate, farmers also continue to endure extremely dry conditions.

Last month, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy announced $88,000 of extra support for drought-affected North Canterbury, which included $30,000 for the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust.

While local farmers in that area have proven to be a resilient bunch, and have been doing a really admirable job of managing with these adverse conditions, it’s important to ensure we look after our rural communities.

Unfortunately, like the earthquakes, when it comes to climate there is little to do in these situations but cope.

As always, I am available for any constituents who want to chat about what is going on in their patch: For me, hearing your views is one of the most important aspects of my role as MP.

Visit me at 22 Scott St, telephone (03) 579 3204, or email stuart.smithmp@parliament.govt.nz.