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Flavell; Land Transport Amendment Act

Te Ururoa Flavell; Land Transport Amendment Act

Member of Parliament for Waiariki

Thursday 16 February 2005

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party commends the Minister on having the courage to identify the error of law-making; and the commitment demonstrated in following through to address that error.

It is an act of courage that we hope all Members of the Government will learn from; and we look forward to supporting them in addressing other errors of law-making that have appeared in this Parliament.

In fact, Mr Speaker we have a suggestion for their first priority. The Foreshore and Seabed Bill is another example of a legal catastrophe that immediately comes to mind, and this Bill provides a fantastic precedent.

Like the other errors of law-making passed in this Parliament, we know the huge impact that faulty legislation has had on human lives throughout Aotearoa. In the case of the Land Transport Amendment Act, the evidence is undeniable that whanau have suffered through the removal of P endorsement from drivers of passenger service vehicles.

Over the last two months we have heard some very sad stories about the traumatic impact families have experienced in light of the retrospective provisions of the Land Transport Act.

Like others have expressed today, we have heard of families being devastated by the impact of their father's adolescent sexual exploits, some 35 years earlier, limiting his ability to put bread and butter on the table in 2006.

We have heard of drivers being doubly discriminated, having been convicted of carnal knowledge forty years ago, and now paying the price, again, by the loss of livelihood.

We heard of an owner/operator in Christchurch - happily married for 31 years - who lost his licence for six months back in 1973 after he and all the young boys he had been mixing with were arrested on the charge of sexual assault; and now has been penalised again, 33 years after the original charge.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party knows too well the price of being the last cab on the rank.

We know the impact for generations to follow of being told to get to the back of the bus.

To that end, we want action.

We have taken up each and every one of our constituent's concerns with the Minister for Transport Safety, asking him to revisit the legislation in order to prevent any further distress for workers and their families.

Now although in my earlier remarks I commended the Minister for bringing this case to the House, the tragedy is that it has taken this Government so long to act.

Yesterday the Member for Te Tai Hauauru brought to the attention of this House the inefficiency of the Crown Law Office, the repeated and unjustifiable delays that have characterized their business.

Later this afternoon, if I get a chance, I will talk about the incompetency and reckless inaction of other Crown agencies in relation to the business of Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

And now with this Bill we are considering the inexcuseable delays that families have suffered from, in the nature of the Government's response to the error of their law-making.

When the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee presented their report on 18 April 2005, there was unanimous agreement from all members of the committee that further consideration should be given to the matters in this Bill.

Why did it take ten months to listen and to act?

What part of 'unanimous' has created uncertainty?

It reminds me of that old song, 'Cab driver, once more 'round the block; Never mind the tickin' of the clock'.

The tickin' of the clock, I am sure has been on the minds of the children, dependants, and family members who stand to lose from livelihoods being compromised.

This is the key concern for the Maori Party. Who will compensate those who have been affected through jobs being lost, licences revoked?

We support this legislation to provide an opportunity for the people affected by this Bill to seek approval for a P endorsement in the future, despite their conviction.

We do so, in the interests of families and whanau who have the most to lose.

But in doing so, we strike a note of caution.

The Maori Party in supporting this Bill, nevertheless retains our position that people convicted of specified serious offences such as murder, sexual and violent offences, should be prohibited from carrying passengers.

We have a whakatauki which guides us in matters such as this: 'e hara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini'.

The strength of the collective is the main concern, the best interests of the wider group must prevail.

Any question about the previous offending of an individual which threatens the well-being of a group, must therefore be given careful consideration.

We are also very conscious of the silent voices over the course of the last two months - the victims of the original crimes - whether it be ten, twenty or thirty years ago - they will have a perspective which we think needs to be heard.

Mr Speaker, there are complex issues associated with this legislation which we hope will be raised during the discussions in the select committee process.

What is the nature of compensation that can be given to families who have been compromised by the effects of the provisions of the Land Transport Amendment Act?

Will the individuals who have been affected by this unjust law be entitled to a formal apology?

How will victims of the so-called 'lower level sexual offences' which feature at the core of this new Bill, have an input into the discussion around measuring the scale of the offence?

This Bill is all about responding to the consequences of earlier actions, and the resulting effect it may have on whanau.

Finally, we think of the philosophy behind the korero 'He moana ke ta matawhanui, he moana ke ta matawhaiti'.

We must always think of the big picture. One accepts that some might say that these crimes were committed way back and we should move on, but don't forget that the crime was committed.

The over-riding factor influencing the Maori Party in supporting this Bill, is that public safety and security must not be compromised, whilst at the same time protecting the life-chances of those family members that were placed at risk.

Kia ora tatou

ENDS

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