CTV accountability 'inadequate'

Last updated 05:00 15/11/2013
CTV tragic aftermath

DEADLY RUBBLE: Rescuers look for survivors after the collapse of the CTV building, killing 115 people, in February 2011.

Alan Reay
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
DESIGN: Dr Alan Reay's firm designed the CTV building.
Maurice Williamson.
MAURICE WILLIAMSON: Disappointed the designer of Christchurch's CTV building, where 115 people died, has not been held accountable.

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Building Minister Maurice Williamson says he finds it unacceptable the man whose firm designed Christchurch's deadly CTV building has not been held to account.

In Parliament yesterday, Williamson labelled the accountability regime for engineers "woefully inadequate" and said it was "abhorrent" an engineer found to have carried out poor work could still be practising.

His comments were made after questions from Labour MP Shane Jones.

"Does it strike the minister as odd that the former chief executive officer of Pike River Coal, mining engineer Mr Peter Whittall, was in the dock for failures associated with Pike River Coal, yet Mr Reay, who was identified as the primary cause of the collapse of the CTV Building, which killed 115 people, is getting off scot-free, continuing to trade and profit in the Christchurch rebuild?" Jones asked.

Williamson replied: "I do find that an unacceptable dilemma, and I am hopeful that the police will soon have a decision on the CTV building".

Christchurch engineer Alan Reay's firm designed the CTV building which collapsed during the February 2011 quake killing 115 people.

He is challenging the legal right of the Institution of Professional Engineers (Ipenz) to investigate him following complaints about his engineering activities.

Under protection of parliamentary privilege, Jones also asked the minister whether he agreed with Ipenz chief executive Andrew Cleland's calls for Ipenz to have greater powers to hold members accountable.

"I find it abhorrent that an engineer found to have done poor work can still be practising, even after being stripped of their Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand registration," Williamson said.

It had become apparent after the collapse of the CTV building that the accountability regime was "woefully inadequate".

Ipenz's lack of jurisdiction was why the case of the engineers involved in design of the CTV building had been put to the police who were still deciding whether to pursue any charges.

"I actually do not find it an acceptable regime where 115 people died in a building that was illegally designed, built, and certified, and still no one held accountable. That is why I think that the regime must change."

Williamson said he found it "galling that when I make even a modest statement about how I find the regime unacceptable, I receive lawyers' letters that day saying ‘Say anything more and we will be suing you'."

Jones said the engineer behind the CTV building belonged "in the dock, next to the former chief executive of Pike River Coal".

Williamson said the Government was working to improve regulations in the area with a view to announcing those next year. 

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