Wednesday, 12 August 2015

13 July 2015

The news that NZTA staff had racked up 8,500 speeding infringements over a nine month period was bad enough, but the subsequent comment from the chief executive that probably no more than 50 staff were involved turned bad enough into sheer farce. On the basis of his admission, that is around 170 offences per individual, or more than 5 per week in the nine month period reviewed.

But let us take this a little step further. On the assumption that each offence was at the conservative end – no more than 10 km/h above the speed limit – each offence would have incurred 10 demerit points. That is 50 points a week, 100 a fortnight. Under the law which NZTA itself administers, once a person hits 100 demerit points, their driving licence is automatically cancelled for three months. Did that happen in any of these cases?

After a three month suspension of licence you have to apply afresh – to the same NZTA – for a new licence. How many times have NZTA staff been required to do that, I wonder? Serial offenders – arguably including the 50 the NZTA chief executive refers to – could be subject to up to 10 years in prison; permanent cancellation of licence; and/or a $20,000 fine. I am not aware of any NZTA staff currently languishing in prison!

Now all this might appear absurd – and to some it is with regard to the ridiculous penalties we apply to minor speeding infringements – but it also serves to highlight once again the arrogant attitude prevalent within NZTA that the law exists merely for its convenience, and certainly not its compliance.

It is the same arrogant attitude that sees NZTA continue to plan roading developments, with scant regard to the interests of local communities, or trying to relitigate the Basin
Reserve Flyover decision in Court once more, when local public opinion is so clearly against it. The notion of public service has long since to be part of its lexicon, and this latest example is further proof of that.

Sadly, they are not alone. Other government agencies seem to have similarly lost the plot when it comes to the provision of service to the public.

Metservice and NIWA now compete with each to provide meteorological services, yet, in apparent defiance of international conventions about the provision of weather data, seek to charge other New Zealand competitors exorbitant fees which is made available free of charge elsewhere. This leads to the ridiculous situation where these competitors source their New Zealand free of charge from international providers, rather than from our own well-regarded institutions.

I am all for government agencies acting competitively, but I am equally of the view they have to act within the law, rather than beyond it.

The Spooks have got away for years with treating the law as an inhibition to their exercise of the “craft”. While that attitude is being curbed, it sadly looks as though they have established with other government agencies are now seeking to follow. And that is equally unacceptable!       


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