Canterbury quake 'most costly' natural disaster

9:27 pm on 13 September 2010

The Canterbury earthquake is the mostly costly natural disaster in monetary terms ever to hit New Zealand, according to Prime Minister John Key.

Mr Key made the comment at his weekly post-Cabinet briefing on Monday afternoon and confirmed that the Government will pass emergency legislation to fast-track reconstruction.

The Treasury has estimated the total cost of the 7.1-magnitude quake, which hit Canterbury on 4 September, to be about $4 billion.

However, the Government says while it has been given initial estimates it is too early to put a definite figure on the final bill.

Regardless, Mr Key says it is clear that, financially, the quake will be the most costly natural disaster in New Zealand's history - but the fact there were no lives lost softens the blow considerably.

The Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Bill is expected to be passed by Parliament on Tuesday.

The bill effectively provides exemptions to the current law where needed, so that work on infrastructure, for example, is not held up by having to wait for a consent.