Moral Panics in New Zealand

Fear of pervert Drivers


Moral Panics Index



Banning drivers with convictions
Deborah Coddington's "sleazebags"


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.

This 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 sleazebags,”

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 "soft"

News reports

            2004 - 2005

            01-13 Jan 2006

            14-31 Jan 2006

            Feb - Mar 2006

Documents (pdf)

            2005 Legislation

            2006 Amendments


There 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 views.

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.   

But 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 debacle:

Selective Amnesia

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 Party.


United Future 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 election. 


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.