Transport Minister defends MPs on transport committee clueless about ride-sharing service Uber

MPs embarrassed themselves last week when they asked irrelevant questions of Uber New Zealand's general manager because ...
TOBY MELVILLE

MPs embarrassed themselves last week when they asked irrelevant questions of Uber New Zealand's general manager because they hadn't researched how the ride-sharing service works.

OPINION: There's an election next year and there's a group of MPs who should be reconsidering their career options after turning up to a meeting having not done their homework.

It's one thing for politicians not to have read all of the reports thrown at them for their various select committees but last week's display at the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee was an embarrassment (and that's being generous).

The committee is chaired by National's Jonathan Young and other members who attended included Labour's transport spokesperson Sue Moroney, National backbenchers Alastair Scott, Paul Foster-Bell and Maurice Williamson, Labour's Peeni Henare and Green MP Jan Logie who was standing in for a colleague.

On Thursday the fact that five of the seven MPs (the exceptions being Williamson and Henare) hadn't even bothered to find out how innovative ride-sharing company Uber works was crystal clear when they spent a large chunk of the meeting demanding answers to questions that had no relevance.

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Uber New Zealand general manager, Richard Menzies explained that the service used an app and didn't operate in the hail and rank space so many times he started to sound like he was on a loop - the meeting ending with his face in his palms, which summed it up really.

A follow-up with Uber after the meeting revealed even they were surprised by the questions thrown at them - if not disappointed - given one staff member had flown out from Sydney to hear from the group of well-paid Parliamentarians who had no idea what they even did.

On Tuesday Transport Minister Simon Bridges had an opportunity to call out the lax attitude to his Land Transport Amendment Bill but instead he laughed it off.

He defended the MPs saying anyone in their mid-40s or older hadn't grown up with cellphones "let alone smartphones with apps that could order cars".

Only problem with that argument is Williamson was the oldest at the table by three years and he not only knew what Uber was but actually regularly uses it overseas.

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Bridges response: "Maurice has always been before his time".

But the jaw-dropper was when Bridges said, "all joking aside with what (MPs) did and didn't do, they are dealing with something that's really new and they're making really good progress on this bill and engaging constructively on it, and I think that's the best we can ask for."

Um, no, Minister. Actually that's the bare minimum taxpayers should expect from MPs.

Turning up to work and not doing your job isn't acceptable - it's a sackable offence - and frankly the public deserves a lot better.

 - Stuff

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