Windscreen washers bill proposes $150 spot fines

Windscreen washers could be issued a $150 instant fine if a bill is passed in Parliament.
ELESHA EDMONDS/FAIRFAX NZ

Windscreen washers could be issued a $150 instant fine if a bill is passed in Parliament.

Window washers could be stung with $150 spot fines under a new bill which passed its first reading in Parliament on Wednesday.

The bill submitted by National MP Jami-Lee Ross', has support from National and Labour.

Ross wants windscreen washing at intersections to be made illegal, giving police the power to issue washers with $150 instant fines.

Rules around window washers fall under council bylaws. If washers repeatedly breach the bylaw they can be fined up to $20,000 by the courts.

READ MORE: 
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However the council can't prosecute youths under 17 years old.

Last year ACT Party leader David Seymour organised a community meeting addressing the problems around Auckland's Greenlane interchange window washing gangs, which had been entering the area by dodging train fares.

In July Windscreen washers were accused of attacking schoolchildren - including four girls who were robbed while walking home from school.

David Seymour would speak at the debate on Wednesday and was supportive of the bill.

"It's great as it tackles a problem that we have in our community with window washers not actually being illegal, making it hard for police," Seymour said.

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"There has been serious crime related to the window washing."

The bill needs 61 votes to move to select committee where the public will be asked to make submissions.

The bill already has 60 votes, Seymour said.

If the bill was passed and fines were able to be issued it would discourage window washers, Seymour said.

Epsom community constable Chris Gwilliam said windscreen washing was still an issue at the Greenlane intersection and areas such as Great South Road in Counties Manukau.

"Obviously it's very seasonal and there will be a decrease as the weather gets worse but even if it's still raining there will be some out there."

Gwilliam said police conduct daily patrols in the problem areas but it was hard as they had no power.

He would welcome the power to impose a $150 spot fine.

Seymour and Gwilliam both raised raised the prospect of issuing fines to people who pay window washers.

"They are feeding the problem and the law would give people an excuse to say no," Seymour said.

In 2016 Auckland residents launched a petition calling for a crack-down in window washers after the attacks on school children. 

The petition called for the Government to change the law around windscreen washing making it an offence. 

Seymour presented the petition and Ross also pushed for a drafted member's bill. 

Labour's police spokesman Stuart Nash said it was a pragmatic solution to an identified issue.

The Green Party opposed the bill and MP Jan Logie said it risked being an "attack on the poor".

"We need to ask ourselves 'why are people doing this work?' Is it because it seems like a fun job, or is it because people are desperate."

The bill passed its first reading by 93 votes to 28. It was supported by National, Labour, Act and United Future but was opposed by the Green Party, Maori Party and NZ First.

The bill would amend the Land Transport Act, making it an offence to wash vehicles in a manner that may be unsafe or cause a nuisance to any person. 

 - Stuff

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