Dame Silvia Cartwright to lead first public inquiry into EQC

Source: 1News

Former Governor-General and High Court Judge Dame Silvia Cartwright will lead the public inquiry into the Earthquake Commission (EQC), Minister Megan Woods announced today.

Ms Woods said in a statement, "Dame Silvia has enormous mana and experience with public inquiries, having led the famous Cartwright Inquiry into Auckland National Women’s Hospital in the 1980s, and served on the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal".

"To have someone of her standing, skills and experience agree to lead this very important public inquiry is really exceptional."

The EQC inquiry will be "the first of its kind under the Public Inquiries Act 2013 and will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, be independent of Government and make its report directly to the Governor-General," she said.

The inquiry will look to learn from the experience of the Canterbury earthquakes and "ensure that the Earthquake Commission is fit for purpose in future events".

It is currently unknown how the inquiry team will be approached, but the minister today released the inquiry's terms of reference, which emphasised that it would not play a role in considering past insurance settlements or current claims, nor would it comment on previous decisions made by the courts on insurance-related matters.

"It is important to put a boundary around the work of the inquiry. There are a range of avenues open for claimants to pursue their individual cases, including the recently announced one-stop shop - the Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCRS).

"It's important to this Government that the people of Canterbury who have been through so much with EQC get the chance to have their say and that the whole country can learn from the experiences of the Canterbury earthquakes."

The inquiry is expected to bring back an interim report by the end of June 2019.