Safer tourist driving wish now on MPs' plate

Government promises to consider boy's proposal

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 06:46 27/06/2014
Sean Roberts
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ

TOP PRIORITY: Sean Roberts, 10, talks to Associate Minister of Transport Michael Woodhouse at Parliament about his petition to make tourists sit a test before they can drive on New Zealand roads.

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Youthful road safety campaigner Sean Roberts has not let a box of 31,000 signatures weigh him down while climbing the steps of Parliament.

The Geraldine 10-year-old visited the Beehive this week to present Associate Minister of Transport Michael Woodhouse with the many signatures of support he has received for changes to tourist driver rules.

Sean launched the campaign in March to prevent tourists from driving on New Zealand roads without sitting a test. His campaign pays tribute to his dad, Grant Roberts, who was killed by a Chinese tourist, who had been in the country for just a day, in 2012.

Kejia Zheng, 20, was disqualified from driving for two years and ordered to pay $10,000 in emotional harm.

"I was quite privileged," Sean said of his visit to Parliament.

Woodhouse originally set aside 20 minutes to chat with Sean, but changed that to an hour. He told Sean it would be another two months before anything more was achieved at parliamentary level, mainly due to the upcoming elections.

However, Woodhouse "promised" Sean that if he was not re-elected to Parliament the petition would not be forgotten about, Sean's mum, Mel Pipson said.

"It's not going to be filed away in the lost property box.

"He sat [Sean] down at the top of the table, talked to him and explained what the process would be. It didn't feel like lipservice. It was really, really good," she said.

"It was most definitely worthwhile because now they are going to look at it. [Woodhouse] said ‘we are going to seriously consider your proposal'."

Sean's petition will be put before Parliament and will then go to a select committee. "That will not be done until after the elections, but it will happen," Pipson said.

The petition will remain available for signing until recommendations from the select committee.

To sign the petition visit change.org and search for "Sean Roberts", or visit Parkside Food in Geraldine.

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- The Timaru Herald

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