Few moral panics can be directly traced back to their source.
This one can.
In 2004, Parliament was
considering changes to Land Transport laws, including the rules associated
with drivers who wish to carry passengers: such as taxi and bus drivers.
Laws were drafted that excluded sex offenders from obtaining such licences.
was not good enough for zealot and crusading politician Act MP Deborah Coddington.
For years she had
crusaded against sex offenders, and had even published a book listing sex
offenders. When the draft Bill came out in 2004 she condemned the
provisions for excluding sex offenders because they did not go far enough.
The legislation was not retrospective.
She said "Anyone convicted of any
sex offence – serious or minor –
should automatically be disqualified from driving taxis". “We need a thorough clean-out of the taxi
industry" "It’s the least
we can do to preserve the status of those good, honest drivers who – like
me – have had a guts full of the
Before an election, she got her way. She was in a select committee with
politicians like Lianne Dalziel (with associations with the Creche case)
and the United Future Party (get tough on crims). Few politicians have the
strength to speak up on an issue where they may be tarred for being
2004 - 2005
01-13 Jan 2006
14-31 Jan 2006
Feb - Mar 2006
was one MP who were prepared to voice his concerns: Green MP Mike Ward
He dissented in the select committee, saying:
"Under this clause someone who
committed a serious offence in their teens, served their time and then led
a blameless life for 20 or 30 years will lose their license with no
possibility of reinstatement.
The Green Party is
uncomfortable with the potential for injustice, especially when there is no
evidence that such a blanket prohibition delivers a significant improvement
in safety compared with alternatives.
The New Zealand First Party also expressed
concerns about there being no appeal provisions for drivers who have been
driving many years and are responsible.
Mike Ward was, predictably attacked for his
Marc Alexander of the
right wing "christian" United
Future Party "slammed" the Greens over-weaning concern for serious
criminals who they would have driving cabs"
He went on to say "I don’t care if the
conviction was 30 years before"
Just as few people stood up to McCarthy for his anti communist views in
America in the 1950s, the majority on the committee approved legislation
according to the earlier reported desires of Coddington:
Mark Gosche, Wayne Mapp, Lynne Pillay, Gerry Brownlee, Helen Duncan, Lianne Dalziel
Time went on, the legislation was passed, and there was little media
comment. Deborah Coddington and Marc
Alexander had succeeded in being seen to be acting against perverts.
some drivers were incensed at the heavy handed legislation. For example, Lloyd Walsh, a 50-year-old Dunedin bus driver,
had a conviction 34 years earlier.
"Thirty-four years ago, when I was 16, I had a
girlfriend I had been seeing for about a year," he said. "We
slept together two days before her 16th birthday but when her parents found
out, I was charged with and convicted of carnal knowledge.
There were other
similar stories. Marc Alexander may not care that the conviction was over
30 years previously, and Deborah Coddington may describe a youth having
consensual sex with his girlfriend a "sleazebag", but the
majority of New Zealanders did not.
There was an outcry.
Politicians scrambled for cover or tried to make gain from the
Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven claimed "I
don't think anyone realised where this (legislation) was going to go.....
"This is an issue that caught everybody by surprise"
No it did not:
Harry Duynhoven conveniently forgets the explicit concerns of the Green
leader Peter Dunne seemingly forgot what he voted for when he says
"the purpose of the legislation is clear but a very blunt instrument
has been employed to remedy the harm identified"
However, it was Mr Dunne’s own
party that insured that the instrument was so blunt. If he had paid
attention to what his MP Marc Alexander was doing earlier, the debacle may
have been avoided
Suitable amendments were made and legislation passed in March 2006,
enabling people like Lloyd Walsh to maintain their licences.
Marc Alexander and Deborah
Coddington are both no longer in Parliament after the November 2005
In case this website
is accused of "supporting sex offenders" on the basis of these
pages, we would like to assure all in the sex abuse industry, that we too
have an abhorrence of the crime of sex abuse. However, unlike those in the
sex abuse industry, we also have an awareness and an abhorrence of false
accusations of abuse, and our definitions of "sleazebag" are not
as all encompassing as the views that Deborah Coddington and Marc Alexander
appear to have.