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MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand First – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Government Way Too Slow To Get USAR Deployed

The decision not to deploy Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) to Nepal reveals the governments embarrassingly inadequate planning and its antiquated protocols, says New Zealand First.

“It took the government 72 hours to make a decision to deploy USAR that was way too slow to make a positive contribution to this devastating earthquake,” says Clayton Mitchell, New Zealand First spokesperson on Internal Affairs.

“This is a huge disappointment for USAR who pride themselves on a high level of professionalism.  The window is wafer thin with only about five days to save lives and because the government’s slow response to events we have let the people of Nepal down. 

“If TV3’s Mike McRoberts can get into Nepal along with aid agencies within a day, then surely our people could too.

“The government needs to figure out how best to use USAR because based on this debacle and the slow response to Vanuatu, it clearly does not,” says Mr Mitchell.

New Zealand First Defence Spokesperson was also disappointed that USAR was held back and wants USAR to have decision-making abilities of its own.

“USAR cannot rely upon the RNZAF for airlift and it seems the agreement they had with Air New Zealand didn’t work as expected,” says Mr Mark. 

“Clearly USAR needs to have pre-approved authority to immediately dispatch an advance party when a major calamity strikes without reference to the Minister.  This means they could be there within 12-hours to get an accurate picture and to best coordinate the deployment.

“They also need pre-approved authority to charter a suitable aircraft to get the main body and their equipment to where it is needed.  This might well include forward deploying to somewhere like Singapore putting them something like 12 hours closer.

“Something needs to change because we have a fantastic asset that is being mishandled by a government that doesn’t understand the need for speed,” says Mr Mark.