Improving preparedness for, and management of, shocks and major events

The ability of the transport system to proactively plan for future needs and emergencies, and respond quickly to failures that disrupt or damage infrastructure, is a critical component of the success of the system. Much of the work the Ministry undertakes through the intermediate outcome ‘Improved planning and investment in infrastructure and services’ also contributes to improving the resilience of the transport system.

The transport system needs to be resilient to respond to unintentional and intentional damage. Over the last few years, the transport system has had to respond to a number of unplanned incidents including the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes and the MV Rena grounding. While we hope that we do not see repeats of these incidents over the next few years, we know that there will be unforeseen incidents to which the transport system will have to respond. The types of unintentional disruption or damage the transport system needs to be able to overcome include:

  • floods, land slips and earthquakes
  • major transport accidents
  • failure in transport infrastructure.

A resilient transport system also needs to be well placed to respond to intentional damage caused by the actions of individuals that threaten the security of a transport service. The system also needs to be able to respond to new demands from other countries or international organisations. These demands often impose constraints or costs on operating our transport system and, through that, impact on the competitiveness of our exporters and our attractiveness as a tourism destination.

We also need the transport system to be responsive to the one-off demands placed on it by major events, such as the Cricket World Cup and the Under 20 FIFA World Cup in 2015.

The Ministry’s role in improving the transport system’s preparedness for, and management of, shocks and major events

The Ministry improves the transport system’s preparedness for, and management of, shocks and major events through its policy advice to government and its work across the government transport sector.

In its policy advice role, the Ministry supports the government’s response to one-off incidents such as the MV Rena grounding or the Canterbury earthquakes.

The Ministry also leads the development of the transport emergency response plan and is the lead agency for the transport cluster that responds to national emergencies and planning exercises.

The Ministry will work to:

  • reduce the risks of disruptions and loss of access to transport infrastructure and services
  • reduce future risks for New Zealand from the grounding of ships.

Improved preparedness – what we intend to achieve

The Ministry’s intended impacts in this area over the next four years, and the projects and activities that will deliver them, include the following:

Impact 9: Reduced disruptions to access to transport infrastructure and services

At the strategic level, we will undertake analysis to help shape and develop a common understanding of transport sector resilience, in collaboration with transport partners. At a practical level, we will continue to assess risks and resilience across the transport sector as part of our engagement in national security and infrastructure arrangements.

We will continue to learn from the MV Rena grounding in order to reduce the likelihood or impact of similar incidents in the future, and to respond more effectively should they occur.

To improve our aviation security preparedness, we advise government on technology issues – including screening technologies, body scanners and future arrangements for liquids, aerosols and gels. We aim to reduce the burden of current security arrangements on travellers.

Impact 10: Reduced future risks for New Zealand from grounding of ships

Maritime NZ will test its strengthened maritime incident response capability by way of a national exercise, scheduled for May 2014. The Ministry will support Maritime NZ in its coordination of this whole-of-government test of agencies’ ability to respond to a significant oil spill incident.

The Ministry will support Maritime NZ in its current review of the NewZealand Marine Oil Spill Response Strategy. 

In 2015 a review has been scheduled for the Oil Pollution Levy to ensure it is maintained at the appropriate level.

Improved preparedness – how performance will be assessed

Outcome measure

The Transport Response Team is ready to respond to all emergencies within one hour of being activated.

The Transport Response Team was partially activated on 16 August 2013 when an earthquake occurred at Lake Grassmere. The team was ready immediately and a situation report was sent to the lead response agency after 1.5 hours.

Impact measures – reduced disruptions to access to transport infrastructure and services

Lessons learned from post-project evaluations of major planned and unplanned events are applied to systems or frameworks to mitigate impacts of future events.

The Ministry will support Maritime NZ to make improvements to its maritime incident response capability, and on ways to ascertain the effectiveness of these improvements.

The Rena grounding underscored the threat to maritime navigation and commerce from floating cargo and debris released in a maritime pollution event. Government has already appropriated funding for Maritime NZ to better track such floating or submerged objects, thereby migitating their impact on shipping. The Ministry will support Maritime NZ to ensure this strengthened capability is effectively implemented.

The Ministry will also address the Transport Accident Investigation Commission’s findings into the cause of the MV Rena grounding, and ways these recommendations can inform overall maritime incident response planning.

Impact measures – reduced future risks for New Zealand from grounding of ships

Increase in a shipowner’s liability for the cost of future grounding of ships.

This measure is new as at March 2013. NewZealand’s level of exposure is the costs that exceed the shipowner’s liability. A shipowner’s liability for maritime claims in NewZealand is, for visiting cargo ships in the typical size range, in the range of NZ$11 million to $15 million (actual amount determined under a formula specified by the Convention on Liability for Maritime Claims 1976). This level of shipowner’s liability has remained unchanged for more than a decade. Legislation is in Parliament to increase the limit to between $39 million and $56 million by 2015.  


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