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Minister ignores official advice - consumers pay

Belinda Vernon National Transport Spokesperson

20 February 2002

Minister ignores official advice - consumers and industry will pay

The Minister of Transport, Mark Gosche, has ignored official advice in proceeding with a new frontal impact standard that will restrict the types of cars able to be imported into New Zealand, says National's Transport Spokesperson, Belinda Vernon.

"The Minister has been blinded by the obvious safety benefits of frontal impact compliance. He has ignored the less obvious welfare and economic costs that outweigh the safety benefits.

"The price of an average used car could increase by up to $4000. That's a lot of money for the average New Zealander. Instead of saving lives, the move is likely to keep people driving older cars because they can't afford to replace them.

"The Minister was told that New Zealanders from low socio-economic groups would be hit hardest. He's effectively said 'tough'.

"Officials also told him that they could not support the proposal on 'safety at reasonable cost' grounds.

"Even the Land Transport Safety Authority, the body responsible for promoting safety on our roads, advised that the costs of the proposals would outweigh the benefits, and that the frontal impact rule would result in some short term safety losses. Treasury also opposed the new rule.

"There is no evidence that the Minister considered the effect on the imported used car industry or the flow-on effect on related industries. Jobs are under threat because of the inability of the industry to adjust in the tight timeframe imposed by the rule. The Minister doesn't seem to care.

"Frontal impact standards are an important tool in improving safety on our roads. But the force-feed approach of this Minister will mean the safety benefits are outweighed by welfare and economic factors," Ms Vernon concluded.


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