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Harawira: Land Transport Amendment Bill 2006

Land Transport Amendment Bill 2006

Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau Thursday 16 2006

Mr Speaker, this past week, we have dealt with the issue of justice in various Bills that have come before us - legal services; access to justice in the Supreme Court; and justice for workers on probation.

Today we come to the second reading of this Bill, and again we return to the call for justice.

THE INJUSTICE OF THE ORIGINAL ACT

A call for justice which arose when the Land Transport Amendment Act 2005 came into force, basically sacking a whole stash of bus and taxi drivers.

Up and down the country, we heard from drivers telling us about the stigma they were being confronted with, as the Act kicked in, and the pain they were facing of unemployment and humiliation.

And yes, Mr Speaker, we had to ask, why we were continuing to punish people for crimes they had paid for, long ago?

The original Act was overly restrictive, in dictating the rights of former offenders to keep their jobs in the bus and taxi industry.

PASSAGE OF THE LEGISLATION

The Minister then presented a Bill to give those citizens the right to get a license back, and the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee also came back with a report.

The Maori Party was disappointed that the Committee chose to reduce exemptions only to those with minor sex offences, while leaving those with records of imprisonment out in the cold.

PUTTING AN END TO VIOLENCE

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party has often spoken in this House against violence, but we are also always willing to look for good in people, and it is with that in mind, that we come to the two amendments being put forward today.

We have concerns about drivers who will not be able to apply for a passenger licenses, particularly because of the restrictions around the cut-off timeframe, and the restrictions around violence.

We support the amendment by Jim Anderton to allow people, both inside and outside the industry, to apply for an exemption, but we would be more flexible around the length of cut off time around imprisonment, because people jailed under the Crimes Act (1961) will still be denied by this legislation.

And we will also support the amendment brought forward by Harry Duynhoven to help those drivers most affected, because both amendments are consistent with Maori Party philosophy.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

The Maori Party wants to enhance the mana of all people, by promoting a system based more on justice that heals, than justice that hammers.

And we support systems where restorative justice is given greater value, because restorative justice is a key element in a fair and just society, and a key element in Maori judicial practice as well.

We believe there is always room for hope, to believe the best in people, and to reward those who through their actions, seek another chance.

Ours is a focus on healing rather than conflict; a focus on reconciliation rather than retribution.

I started this speech by reminding the House of the need to focus on justice, and today I remind us of other matters of justice in this issue: * Where is the justice for the families who went hungry while the bread-winner was suspended because of the original legislation? * And where is the justice for the original victims of the offences, and how will their voices be heard?

Mr Speaker, we will support both the Bill and the two Supplementary Order Papers being heard today, in the interests of those people unfairly treated by the original legislation.

We support the families who have suffered and will receive no redress or compensation, and we support the principle of restorative justice.

The great Dr Martin Luther King once said:

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life's most persistent and urgent question is always - what are you doing for others?

Thankfully, today we will all be able to do something for people who have already paid for their crimes, and need not be punished again. I wish us the strength and the wisdom to make the right choice.

ENDS

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