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Roadside drug test a ‘stolen idea’

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott says the idea behind his declined member’s bill has been stolen. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

EMILY IRELAND
[email protected]

Roadside drug testing is set to come into force in early 2021.

But Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said the government had stolen the idea from his member’s bill which was shut down in October last year.

“They’ve stolen my idea I have been promoting for quite a few years now, and called it their own,” he told the Times-Age on Thursday.

“That’s the game of politics. The important thing is that it actually gets done at the end of the day.”

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced on Wednesday the government would give police new powers to conduct random roadside drug testing and to prosecute drugged drivers.

Last year, 95 people were killed in preventable crashes where the driver was found to have drugs in their system.

The new rules – which will go through Parliament next year – mean the police will be able to conduct oral fluid drug testing on drivers.

Drivers who tested positive for the drugs would be fined and immediately suspended from driving for a minimum of 12 hours.

Drivers would also face criminal penalties if they failed a compulsory impairment test and blood tests confirmed impairing levels of drugs in their system.

Scott said if his member’s bill had made it to a select committee last year, the initiative could have rolled out early next year instead of 12 months later.

“Most stuff goes to a select committee, to investigate it, to ask questions, see if you can improve it,” he said.

“They didn’t even give it that chance, they kicked it out.

“They missed an opportunity and people will die in the meantime as a result.”

Scott said his bill was rejected because “the government wanted to do their own comprehensive review of drugs and driving and road-testing”.

“That’s what a select committee process is all about – you do the first reading – it’s never going to be perfect the first time.

“There’s nothing special or comprehensive about what they have suggested.”

He said his bill was not brought to select committee because the government “want to claim it as their own”.

“It’s all political nonsense.

“They had a sense it would be popular and useful and vote-gaining.”

Ultimately, Scott said it was “better late than never” and said it was “the result that matters and it will benefit New Zealand”.

“I’m pleased to say I initiated it and brought pressure on the government to do what they’re doing today.”

Scott has announced he won’t stand for re-election next year. — with NZME

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