Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said a driving license is a key requirement for up to 70% of jobs.
The government’s promise to fund driving lessons and tests for 64,000 people is not enough to cope with growing wait times for permits and hardship in rural areas with poor public transport, said said National’s Barbara Kuriger.
The MP for Taranaki-King Country was responding to Wednesday’s pledge to help people facing financial and social barriers get their license.
DAVID LINKLATER/SUPPLIED IMAGES
Some simple safety suggestions for safer driving in wet weather.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said a driver’s license is a key requirement for up to 70% of jobs, “yet a large part of our community cannot access training or testing due to costs and other obstacles”.
“There are many people in our prisons whose journey to criminal records began with fines for driving without a license,” she added. “Today is a big step to change that.”
* Government funds 64,000 people to take lessons and driving tests
* Covid-19: VTNZ will require proof of vaccination from learner drivers before the road test
* Expiring driver’s licenses are another issue for Kiwis stranded abroad
Sepuloni said police would be able to refer people caught driving without a license to funded programs to ensure they could get one.
The move, which is part of the upcoming budget, would cost $86.5 million over four years.
But Kuriger said he failed to deliver on his 2017 promise to provide five hours of professional driving lessons and free license tests to high school students.
“It’s just too little, too late,” she said.
Earlier this week, she said the government needed to review the licensing system and ensure theory and practice tests were readily available and affordable in rural communities.
“Only 5% of young people will leave school with a full driving licence, leaving thousands to explore the world without a licence.
“Rural people need a driver’s license to get to work. They live in places where there is no public transport.
Kuriger said the government should also consider bringing back on-the-job training in the transport industry.
“If it’s not easy to get a Class 1 driver’s license and specialist licenses are even harder, where will the next batch of fire and EMT drivers come from?”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson is due to release the full budget on Thursday, May 19.