NZ cabinet to set up top level Y2K committee

New Zealand's cabinet is setting up a top-level committee to advise the government on year 2000 and general millennium issues.

Minister responsible for Y2K, Maurice Williamson, said last week that while the government is not expecting major disruptions in the New Year, "we are determined to be prepared for any possible situation".

The committee will give New Zealand "a means of dealing with a significant incident" should one occur, he said.

Williamson said New Zealand is well placed internationally in terms of year 2000 readiness, citing a Gartner Group report that marked New Zealand highly for its year 2000 readiness work with sector groups.

"Because we are the first to see the changeover, we won't have the benefit of being able to learn from others if unexpected problems arise, and must plan for every contingency," Williamson said.

He said the committee could advise on problems occurring offshore, such as major international air traffic control failure, and problems with a national focus that impacted on critical human services, the economy or national security.

The issues could take several days to make themselves known, and require a measured and ongoing government response to allay local and international concerns, he said.

"The committee will not be concerned with specific 'civil defence' emergency situations. These will be handled by our ongoing emergency management processes."

The committee will be chaired by the chief executive of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and report to the Prime Minister. It will include the chief executives of the State Services Commission, Emergency Management, NZ Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Treasury and Y2K Readiness Commission.

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