The cases of bus and taxi drivers losing their licenses for long-past minor sexual offences is exactly what the Green Party warned would happen when the new land transport law was being debated last year, Associate Transport Spokesperson Keith Locke says.
The Greens supported the Land Transport Amendment Bill last year because of the wide range of needed administrative measures it contained. However 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 ‘soft on crime’ for their stand. Mr Locke has today sent Transport Safety Minister Harry Dunyhoven a copy of Mr Ward’s proposed solution.
“Labour MP Mark Gosche was wrong when he said this morning that support for this provision was unanimous in Parliament last year; we opposed it, but on balance had to support the Bill as a whole,” Mr Locke says.
“The Greens have consistently agreed there are valid concerns about former sex offenders driving buses and taxis. But these cases now being reported, such as the bus driver who will lose the license he has held for 20 years because he was convicted 34 years ago of sex with his girlfriend two days before her 16th birthday, demonstrate the very concerns we highlighted at the time.
“We argued some sort of high-threshold discretion should be built into the system. Such discretion is vital if we are to respond to real human cases in a common sense and compassionate manner. It is not without precedent, being available in matters such as immigration.
“Harry Duynhoven’s move to amend this law is sensible. I have sent him a copy of Mike Ward’s minority report that proposes that the Director of Land Transport be the person who operates a high-hurdle discretionary test. The Greens drafted a detailed amendment to this effect, which was rejected by other parties at the time.
“We also applaud the Bus and Coach Association and Taxi Federation for their lobbying on the issue,” Mr Locke says.
summary of the Greens’ minority report
, refer bottom of page two onwards.