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Burton: Address to IAATI Australasian Seminar

Welcome Address to the 13th IAATI Australasian Training Seminar

Welcome Address to the 13th IAATI Australasian Training Seminar

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Good Morning. It's my pleasure to be here today to extend to you all a very warm welcome to Wellington and New Zealand. I am very happy that you have chosen Wellington, for the first time, as host city for the 13th IAATI Australasian Training Seminar.

This is an excellent opportunity to showcase New Zealand's efforts to reduce vehicle crime and to recognise your collective expertise and commitment to helping prevent the occurrence of this type of crime - the impacts of which, and its links to other criminal activity are often underestimated.

I see from the programme that you have a stimulating three days ahead in which you will deal with a number of important issues relating to the reduction of vehicle crime.

Perhaps the most important outcome of this type of gathering is the opportunity for experts from a range of different jurisdictions to exchange their ideas and experiences with each other.

To our guests from the northern hemisphere I hope you get an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and all that our country has to offer and I hope that the food, culture and entertainment will help banish any remnants of jetlag you may have.

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Vehicle crime is an important issue in New Zealand. We have one of the highest car ownership rates in the world.

A recent survey by AC Nielsen found that 89 percent of New Zealanders owned cars placing us fourth in the world behind the US, Italy and Australia. The country's vehicle fleet numbers around three million, nine hundred thousand - almost one vehicle for every person.

For most New Zealanders the purchase of a car is their second largest investment. It's a decision that is not often made lightly. A large proportion of our time is spent on the road.

As a people we have had a love affair with the car that perhaps rivals that of the citizens of Los Angeles.

The upshot is that most New Zealanders have a vested interest in seeing that vehicle crime is taken seriously. Many people have first hand experience of the impact of vehicle crime. Myself included. Some years ago our family car was stolen. It turned up 30 kilometres away, a burnt out wreck. It still irks today. Aside from the fact that they just don't build cars like that 88 Commodore anymore, the theft and destruction of one's car is a very invasive crime.

In New Zealand, the Government is committed to reducing vehicle crime - not only in recognition of the serious financial impact, but and also the emotional costs can have for individuals and their communities.

Early last year, we announced a comprehensive and innovative vehicle crime reduction programme. The aim of the programme is to significantly reduce both opportunistic and professional vehicle theft.

Its key elements are the compulsory fitting of immobilisers and whole-of-vehicle marking technology to imported passenger vehicles aged less than fifteen years old. The Whole-of-Vehicle Marking initiative should be fully operational by the end of the year with the immobiliser programme beginning in 2007.

Justice Ministry officials are also currently establishing a national safer parking accreditation programme. This will promote safety and security criteria in parking facilities and acknowledge those that implement these measures through an awards scheme.

I would also like to take this opportunity to formally recognise the invaluable assistance that IAATI has given during the development of the Vehicle Crime Reduction Programme.

I would like to specifically acknowledge Paul Thomas and Ray Carroll. Your support, knowledge and advice have been very important during the formative stages of the programme's development.

As I noted earlier, this type of forum provides a great opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences. I see this as key to developing effective solutions to vehicle crime - and so its time for me to let you get on with the substance of your seminar.

So - again, welcome to Wellington and while you're here, I encourage you to get out and explore the city's harbour, its restaurants, theatre and even an event being held as part of the International Arts Festival, which is currently underway.
I wish you well for a successful seminar, and to our international guests - a great visit, and a safe return home.


Thank you.


ENDS

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