Parliament would move to the Devonport naval base if a
catastrophic earthquake hit Wellington, a draft report
Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye yesterday released a
Cabinet paper and draft plan for the temporary relocation of
Parliament to Auckland after a devastating quake.
"The draft arrangements cover a worst-case scenario where the
impact of a major earthquake is so severe that Parliament and
executive government could not function effectively in
Wellington," she said.
The Wellington fault line runs under the central city and
could generate quakes of magnitude 8 or larger.
The paper said a severe quake was likely to cut off
Wellington's road and rail access for three months, wipe out
power, water and sewerage networks for several months, make
telecommunications unusable, and severely affect food and
Parliament must by law sit within seven days of a national
The Cabinet has already agreed that the best place for a
temporary parliament is Auckland, because several government
departments are based there and because of its accommodation
The paper outlines plans to transport 164 people to Auckland
- the Governor-General and family, MPs, ministerial staff and
But if required, government could operate with a skeleton
staff. The minimum attendance required for Parliament to sit
was the Speaker, a minister, and the Clerk of the House.
"This relocation would allow the Government to continue to
govern effectively, while mobilising national and
international support for Wellington," Ms Kaye said.
"The Government must also govern the rest of the country, and
in a worst case scenario this may not be possible from
Wellington if access was difficult, and communications and
facilities were limited."
Parliament would have to move to government-owned land, and
an emergency facility at the Devonport naval base was the
most likely option.
The paper is part of wider response plans for all Wellington
- Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald