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Published: 2010-02-22 00:00:00

Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group chairman Peter Lee says he is very encouraged by the commitment shown by senior regional politicians to lifting the performance of Civil Defence in the Waikato.

Mr Lee, the deputy mayor of Waipa District Council, was commenting after a Group Joint Committee workshop, involving mayors and other senior politicians, which discussed a Ministry of CDEM report on the Waikato Group.

The wide-ranging report said Group members managed local, short-term emergencies well but said the Group needed to make significant improvements to ensure it could manage longer-term and region wide situations. Also, general improvements were needed in the leadership and culture of the Group.

Mr Lee told the workshop that the Waikato Group’s number one priority had to be public safety and that Civil Defence planning had to be taken very seriously.

"We must set the direction for the future, we must be united," he said.

The workshop agreed to formally recommend to the Joint Committee that it establish a working group to look at a detailed programme to address the report’s recommendations.

"At today’s workshop there was a strong sense of politicians taking responsibility for analysing the report carefully and making sure they are fulfilling their responsibilities to their communities on the Civil Defence front," Mr Lee said afterwards.

"I am encouraged by their commitment to addressing the issues identified in the report. While current systems are working well for shorter-term emergencies, we do need to lift our game in planning for the bigger potential events in our region that may require a wider Civil Defence response than we have faced so far."