Bill English is blinded by Chinese money - Winston Peters


Prime Minister Bill English has been so blinded this week by the prospect of more Chinese money flooding into New Zealand he is losing perspective.

On Wednesday he said thousands of Chinese tourists who are expected to keep coming here in record numbers should forget about getting on a tour bus to see the country; instead they should take to the roads in cars or campervans, travelling independently.

His rationale was not because it would add to the tourists' up-close encounter of our country but because travelling independently would probably mean these tourists would spend more and stay longer.

His remarks suggested he didn’t give a cent for safety on our roads, nor that some of these Chinese travellers are not up to scratch to drive here.

A day after Mr English's "forget the bus" comments we had a reminder of what is happening on our roads when a 28-year-old Chinese national Peng Wang was found guilty of careless driving causing injury. He is due to be sentenced in the next few weeks.

Wang admitted in the North Shore District Court that he had never read the New Zealand Road Code.

Wang crashed into journalist Karen Rutherford when she was riding her horse – the horse was killed.

She is still suffering from her injuries and has not worked full-time at her job since the accident five months ago. Her victim impact statement was read out in court in which she stated her faith in New Zealand’s political and justice ‘systems’ had been shattered.

After hearing Mr English's comment, her faith no doubt would have been shattered even further, if that would be possible.

Ms Rutherford was present at Parliament in Wellington last month when New Zealand First accepted a petition calling for tougher measures against foreign drivers.

This petition had been organised by Tauranga woman, Judy Richards. Her 23-year-old son Rhys Middleton died due to the careless driving of a 27-year-old Chinese woman who had never driven on an open road at speeds of more than 50kmh before coming to New Zealand.

Perhaps Mr English is not aware of the petition. But he needs to start focussing more on ordinary New Zealanders and less on foreign money.

A good start for him and his government would be to support New Zealand First’s Land Transport (Tourist Driver Rental Vehicle) Amendment Bill which will ensure overseas visitors hiring rental vehicles are competent enough to be let loose on our roads.

Winston Peters is leader of New Zealand First