New Zealand High Commission Canberra, Australia

Australia, NZ Police and Emergency Management Ministerial Meeting

Australian and New Zealand Police and Emergency Management Ministers met jointly for the first time in Wellington on 29 July 2011. Police and Emergency Management Ministers have previously met through separate ministerial councils.

Australia and New Zealand face similar law enforcement and emergency management challenges. Modern criminal networks do not respect national or geographic borders, and nor do natural disasters. Shared learning and policy development, along with close operational co-operation, produce substantial benefits for all jurisdictions. The recent Christchurch earthquake and Australian floods and bushfires provide powerful examples of both the need for ongoing partnership and the tremendous outcomes such partnership can produce.

Ministers from all Australian, State and Territory Governments, New Zealand, and the Australian Local Government Association participated.

Ministers discussed a range of disaster resilience initiatives, including those arising from the implementation of the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, and policing issues, including endorsement of a national protocol on cybercrime investigations and policing powers in immigration detention centres.

This is the first occasion that Emergency Management Ministers have met since the February Christchurch earthquake. Ministers were provided with an update of the response and recovery activities undertaken since the earthquake.

A national, integrated approach to building disaster resilience

Police and Emergency Management Ministers confirmed their commitment to a national, integrated approach to building disaster resilience.

Ministers are leading implementation of the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience. This will be a long-term, evolving process to deliver sustained behavioural change across Australia and enduring partnerships between governments, communities, businesses and individuals. It also noted that implementation presents the jurisdictions with a broad range of challenges.

Key to the successful implementation of the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience will be the communication of the resilience message. It was agreed that Ministers would actively promote disaster resilience ahead of the development of a national disaster awareness campaign.

The National Strategy for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson

The National Strategy for the Prevention of Bushfire Arson was endorsed by Ministers. Implementation of the Strategy will include:

• the establishment of a public website or portal to provide ready access to community information on arson

• Creation of an intranet platform to provide investigators with a secure environment to exchange information. The provision of advice on best practice arson prevention strategies, and

• Support for a Wildfire Arson Investigation Management Course.

Relief and Recovery Payments in times of disaster

Ministers agreed that the review of effectiveness of Commonwealth and State and Territory relief and recovery payments would report by the end of 2011. The Commonwealth Government indicated that it would be examining its actions in the recovery and mitigation field in light of the summer’s disasters.

Triple Zero – surge capacity in disasters

A report identifying best practice and ways of improving the capacity of Triple Zero and State and Territory call centres to handle the increased influx of calls during disasters was considered by Ministers. Ministers agreed that they will seek the views of jurisdictional emergency service agencies on the best practice guidelines that are suggested in the report. Further consideration will also be given to the way in which Triple Zero technology will be procured in the future.

Commonwealth environmental scan

The Report on the Environmental Scan into a National Approach to Flood Modelling was considered by Ministers. Ministers noted the criticality of flood data to the ability of insurers to quantify flood risk and price insurance. It was agreed that where data has not already been provided, all States and Territories would work in partnership with their local governments to resolve any impediments to the release of appropriate flood mapping data to the insurance industry and other relevant stakeholders.

Land use planning and building codes

Land use planning and building codes were also a subject of discussion. Ministers resolved to formally seek the support of Ministers responsible for infrastructure planning to ensure that land use zoning and planning decisions integrate consideration of priority hazards. The development by mid-2012 of an expanded action plan to enhance disaster resilience in the built environment, including consideration of land use planning, building codes and property resilience ratings was also agreed to.

Disaster resilience initiatives

Progress on a range of disaster resilience related initiatives was discussed. These included: the progress of current disaster inquiries; the Natural Disaster Insurance Review; the review of the National Action Plan for Volunteers; the review of the efficient and effective co-ordination of volunteer effort in the immediate clean up stage post-disaster; and work underway to ensure that public safety agencies have access to robust and reliable mobile broadband capabilities for mission critical communications.

Cross cutting issues in emergency management

For all Standing Councils the ‘cross-cutting issues’ of indigenous disadvantage, access to services, gender equality, and inclusion for persons with disability, as well as the specific needs of regional Australia are to be taken into account in pursuing their priority issues of national significance and reflected in work plans.

Ministers and members agreed that, in implementing the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, the National Emergency Management Committee keep cross-cutting issues under regular review. This will include consultation with the Disability Discrimination Commissioner to identify initiatives to address the needs of people with disabilities from 2012-13 onwards.

National Approach to Cybercrime Investigations

Acknowledging that cyber crime is an issue of national significance, police ministers endorsed the Protocol for Law Enforcement Agencies on Cyber Crime Investigations. The protocol supports a coordinated approach across Commonwealth, State and Territory law enforcement agencies to combating cyber crime.

Directions in Policing Strategy

Ministers agreed to review the Directions in Australia and New Zealand Policing 2008-2011 strategy. The high level document, which sets out common priorities for Commonwealth, State and Territory and New Zealand law enforcement agencies, aims to encourage greater cooperation between police agencies, and enhance the quality of overall service delivery. The revised strategy is due when the Ministers next meet later in the year.

ANZPAA and National Common Police Services Finances

Ministers considered the 2011 status reports and endorsed the 2011-12 financial estimates for the Australian Institute of Police Management and National Crime Statistics Unit. Ministers also noted the 2011-12 budget for the Australia New Zealand Police Advisory Agency.

State and Territory Police Powers at Immigration Detention Centres

Ministers received an update on work being led by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to clarify the use of State and Territory police powers in Commonwealth immigration detention centres. Ministers agreed to jurisdictions participating in a DIAC-led group to further consider the exercise of those powers
 

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