Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman
19 February 2008
WINZ pays for drunk-drivers to get cars back
Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson needs to explain why she is allowing Work and Income to pay for beneficiaries who have been caught drunk-driving and who have committed other driving offences to have their vehicles handed back to them, says National's Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.
"This practice is rife and has been confirmed by towing companies up and down the country.
"It is outrageous that taxpayer money is being used to basically subvert a legal process to allow people who have committed driving offences to basically get off scott-free.
"Ruth Dyson, when alerted to the fact this was going on last year, told Parliament that before Work and Income would consider whether to pay a beneficiary's parking fine or car towage fees, it would consider whether the applicant had contributed to their situation.
"She further told Parliament that it would be 'unusual for assistance of this type to be provided'.
"We now know that rather than being 'unusual', it is very common for Work and Income to direct-credit tow truck firms to pay outstanding towage and storage costs for beneficiaries whose cars have been impounded because they've been caught drunk-driving or have had their licences stripped from them for other driving offences.
"Rather than considering who is at fault in this situation, Work and Income is paying out taxpayer money to enable people who have unregistered and unsafe cars to get those vehicles back.
"Towing companies are fed up and say they're going public because most New Zealanders would share their alarm.
"Unfortunately, the Minister continues to show how out of touch she is with the pulse of the nation, preferring to turn a blind eye to this unacceptable practice."
Hat tip: The Briefing Room