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Don't enforce bus, taxi law until mess sorted out

19 January 2006

Hold off enforcing new bus & taxi law until mess sorted out

Land Transport New Zealand should hold off enforcing the sex offender section of the new passenger license law until the needed amendments are in place in a month or so, Green Party Associate Transport Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

Transport Safety Minister Harry Dunyhoven said today that he is working with other parties to fast-track law changes that would allow the Land Transport Director some discretion on passenger endorsements held by former sex offenders. Cases have come to light of drivers committing relatively minor carnal knowledge offences decades ago, and now unfairly losing their careers.

"It now seems certain that Mr Dunyhoven will have no trouble passing the necessary amendments when Parliament sits in mid-February. He will certainly have Green Party support," Mr Locke says.

"Given the impact of the loss of these licenses on both drivers and their employers' businesses, I think it would be appropriate for Land Transport to hold off enforcing the new regime. He can do this by leaving in place licenses held by former sex offenders that were cancelled on 16 January, until the legal fine-tuning is completed next month.

"Why should these drivers have their livelihood disrupted because Parliament stuffed up?

"It is true that such a transitional provision would cover a wider group of former offenders than those likely to qualify for exemptions under the planned amendments, but those more serious offenders will probably have seen the writing on the wall and already be looking for a new line of work. The risk to the public from such an interim measure will be minimal," Mr Locke says.

The Greens supported the Land Transport Amendment Bill last year because of the wide range of needed administrative measures it contained. However then Green MP Mike Ward put forward a minority report at the Select Committee warning of the potential injustice that has now come to pass. At the time, the Greens were criticised for being too lenient on former sex offenders for their stand.

ENDS

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