Friday, March 17, 2006

Correcting a mistake

Last night, Parliament passed the Land Transport Amendment Bill under urgency, in an effort to correct the mistake it had made last year of being overly harsh in stripping bus and taxi drivers of their passenger licences for offences committed long ago. Unfortunately, in the process, the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee made the same mistake again, by removing any possibility of reinstatement for those with convictions for violent offences. I'd expected the government to try and fix this with a Supplementary Order Paper, and they did. Two sets of amendments were successfully made (SOP 13 from Harry Duynhoven and SOP 14 from Jim Anderton), and together they seem to have largely fixed the problem in the bill. Previously, people convicted of serious offences were ineligible to hold passenger endorsements; now they can be eligible if they were sentenced to less than twelve months imprisonment and can convince the Director of Land Transport that they will not "pose an undue risk to public safety". Those who lose their licenses in this way or lost them due to the previous legislation can apply to have them reinstated, and are eligible unless they were sentenced to more than a year's imprisonment for murder or a sex crime. Otherwise, they must likewise convince the Director that they're not a threat. The previous test - of having to have a clean record for ten years - has been dumped, and so now practically everyone is eligible to apply. The criteria on which the Director makes their decision have been tightened (now they must consider offences, sentences, etc), but that isn't so bad. I am still concerned that the bill does not provide sufficient rights of appeal for murderers and sex criminals (I think that most of the latter would fail to convince, but they should at least have the opportunity to try) - but it is a vast improvement on the previous situation, and an even bigger one on what the select committee had handed back.

An attempt by National's David Bennett to set out different rules for new applicants was defeated 46 - 70.

Meanwhile, Wayne Mapp, who was on the select committee, doesn't seem to be taking the rejection of his vicious approach very well...